FOB Salerno goes 'Nuts!'
by Staff Sgt. Ben Navratil 3rd BCT, 1st ID
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division rock band, “Nuts!” performed for a crowd of service members and civilian contractors on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Feb. 20.
The band’s name is derived from a famous event in the history of the 101st during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. During fierce combat between German and American forces for control of Bastogne, Belgium, the division’s acting commander, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe was asked to surrender the town by German troops surrounding it. He responded with a note that simply said “Nuts!”
The performance also featured a guest singer, U.S. Army Pfc. James Keefer, a mechanic with Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, and native of Antioch, Calif., who joined the band on stage for a rendition of the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.”
“I think the band is great for letting me get up there and sing with them,” said Keefer, who was once front-man in his own band.
“It was an old familiar feeling,” he said about being back on-stage for the first time in two years. “You can never totally get rid of those butterflies in your stomach.”
The band has been touring Afghanistan for 10 months, boosting morale with an energetic performance mixing country and rock songs.
“At the very least,” said Thompson, the band’s leader, “we provide a release for the guys on patrol, the guys out on the firing line, even the guys in the offices. We try to take them out of here, if just for an hour.”