MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Station residents flocked to the station Marine Corps Post Exchange to get a chance to shake hands and pose with celebrities from the hit TV show, “The Sons of Anarchy,” during the 2013 USO Handshake Tour here March 14, 2013.
Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior and Dayton Callie set up shop in the PX, signing autographs and posing for photos in the afternoon.
For the actors, doing events such as the handshake tour is their way of giving back to those who give so much.
“They love our show and we love them,” said Coates. “So it’s super important for me to support in whichever way I can.”
Coates also added how much he hears from servicemembers how they use the show as a stress-reliever and as a means of coping whenever they have downtime during a deployment.
The actors make several stops elsewhere throughout the year, constantly striving to show their appreciation to the troops.
“This is my second big tour,” said Coates. “I can’t do this enough. I’m also a big supporter of Wounded Warriors. I visit Camp Pendleton and Fort Hood. I love giving back as much as I can.”
Earlier in the day, the actors visited servicemembers in their work centers, including Marines from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 as they worked. The group watched a demonstration of a General Electric F404, the engine for the F/A-18 Hornet, before continuing to Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. Once there, the actors posed for photos with servicemembers and dependents.
The overall feeling from the Marines was one of deep appreciation and satisfaction as they conversed with the actors.
Junior also mentioned the level of appreciation seems more genuine and sincere from servicemembers.
“It’s a weird thing,” said Junior. “People are constantly coming up to me every day saying they appreciate me being an actor but I seem to get more out of it when I come on these tours.”
And the servicemembers do appreciate them for that.
“I thought it was amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Jay Santiago, station Installation Personnel Administration Center outbound staff noncommissioned officer-incharge. “We don’t get to see actors like that here. Just having that opportunity to actually meet them is pretty amazing. I’m glad the USO was able to do that.”
Santiago said he hopes USO tours such as this will become a regular activity throughout the year here.
“I wish they would bring some more (actors,)” said Santiago. “When you are in other overseas duty stations, the USO normally does these tours and we don’t get those here quite that often. When I was stationed at Okinawa, they had several USO tours during the year. I’ve been here for three years now and I think they bring in one group of actors every year.”
At the conclusion of their presentation at the exchange, the actors visited the Hornet’s Nest, continuing to meet and greet fans well into the evening.
The hand-shake tour is scheduled to make two more stops at Guam and Hawaii before returning to the states.
Though their stay was short, the stars shined brightly for their fans.
The visit was something both the actors and many servicemembers will remember for years to come.