MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania — Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, Chief Master Sgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez, led a USO tour to visit Fort Hood troops serving overseas. The tour’s visit to Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base on Jan. 7 included celebrities, comedians, athletes and mixed martial arts fighters. 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. 1st Cavalry Division, Soldiers deployed to Romania in October 2019.

“Seeing the celebrities interacting with the Soldiers on their equipment and seeing the Soldiers enjoying a brief respite proved the value of USO’s tour. I saw the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing with my mortarmen on their weapon system and the country music group LoCash crawling on an M1 Abrams tank. Everyone had a great time,” Capt. Christopher Salerno, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, said.

The battalion has Soldiers arrayed in Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Their deployment is focused on building readiness and training with NATO allies and partners. In the midst of a cold winter, difficult training and a nine month separation from family and friends, the Black Knights in Romania were happy for the chance to experience a brief reprieve.

During the tour, Bellator Women’s Flyweight World Champion, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, expressed her appreciation to the families and Soldiers. Adam Eaton and Aaron Barrett, members of the World Series winning Washington Nationals, did the same after learning about the M1 Abrams tank from Staff Sgt. Robert Gill, the battalion’s tank master gunner.

Cpl. Roger Debiase, an M1Abrams tank gunner, summed up the experience when he said, “The USO tour was excellent. It was a really great time.”