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Aaron Tippin AFMC Tattoo
Country music superstar Aaron Tippin will take to the stage at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio Friday, June 26, in a free concert that is part of the Air Force Materiel Command’s fifth annual Freedom’s Call Tattoo. The event, held on the grounds behind the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, features music, aircraft flyovers and a spectacular fireworks show. (Promotional Photo)
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Aaron Tippin: Country music star at home with Air Force

Posted 5/29/2009   Updated 5/29/2009 Email story   Print story


by Kathleen A.K. Lopez
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

5/29/2009 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- A friendship that's been in the making for nearly 20 years will continue on June 26 when country music superstar Aaron Tippin and his band, the Stemwinders, play an hour-long concert at the fifth annual Air Force Materiel Command Freedom's Call Tattoo. 

The event is free and open to the public, and takes place on the grounds adjacent to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Activities begin at 5 p.m. 

While there are those in the entertainment industry who during their career pay a much-appreciated visit to troops deployed to a war zone, Mr. Tippin began performing for service members on a Bob Hope USO tour to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. 

That was in 1990 - at the very start of the now gold and platinum recording artist's country music career. Mr. Tippin has been playing for the troops - at home and abroad - ever since. 

"Bob Hope's daughter, Linda, heard that song ('You've Got to Stand for Something') and thought it would be a very appropriate song for the troops and invited me to go with Bob Hope," Mr. Tippin said. "What a blessing that was. It started a friendship (with the military) that's lasted nearly 20 years."

No stranger to the troops
While troops are thankful to members of the entertainment industry for any visit to a military installation, one might wonder why an entertainer would choose to do so for the duration of his or her career. 

"I am very thankful to live in this country," Mr. Tippin said. "I realize the freedom that I have - you (military) are directly responsible for it. I just like to show a little appreciation where I can on behalf of my family, my company, my band and my crew. We're thankful. We want to prove it." 

In "proving" his gratitude, Mr. Tippin performs concerts at military events, be they at home or abroad. He travels overseas every Thanksgiving with "Stars for Stripes," a non-profit organization dedicated to providing celebrity entertainment to internationally deployed U.S. military forces.

No stranger to flying
When Mr. Tippin plays for an Air Force audience, he definitely can relate to the crowd: He acquired his commercial pilot's license at age 17. He is also a multi-engine instrument aviator, a helicopter-rated pilot and a certified aircraft mechanic. 

He had the desire to join a branch of military service. But, at the time he was interested, there was not a great need for aviators. 

"Flying is what I wanted to do," he said. "I had aspirations of being a fighter pilot (in the military), but it didn't pan out." 

Mr. Tippin has, however, flown in U.S. Air Force aircraft, including an F-16 Falcon, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a C-130 Hercules, C-17 Galaxy and C-141 Starlifter. 

The love of flying runs in Mr. Tippin's family - his eldest child, a daughter, is married to a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and his two sons enjoy flying with their dad.

Fit to fight
Just as Air Force Airmen are committed to wellness, so, too, is Mr. Tippin. 

Anyone who has watched him perform at one of his concerts knows he couldn't do so without aerobic endurance and physical strength: It's a lifetime commitment that began in his mid-twenties. 

"It started when I was about twenty-five, when I quit honky-tonkin' and decided I wanted to live past 30," Mr. Tippin said. 

He and his wife, Thea, enjoy working out together, and are starting a nutrition company. But, that doesn't mean he doesn't struggle with motivation for daily exercise and a disciplined diet. 

"When you make up your mind to start the challenge (of wellness), don't jump in and go to 100 percent," he said. "That discourages people and they may not come back, or, they reluctantly come back. That's a burden. And it's not the way to do it." 

A daily exerciser, Mr. Tippin "absolutely" cheats on his dietary intake. Admittedly, he is "the worst for falling off the wagon. But, when I do, I relieve myself of that responsibility, and I make up for it but recalculating my calories."

Family values
Long hours, deployments and a lot of time spent away from home are just some of the sacrifices Air Force Airmen make to keep America safe. Successful entertainers face similar demands on their time, which enables Mr. Tippin to relate to military members. 

When he is on the road, he understands his responsibilities as a breadwinner. But, his favorite hobby remains his family. 

"When I'm at home my obligation is my family," he said. "It's a pleasure, an honor and a joy to hang out with them. 

"Thea and I plan vacations and things that we can all do," he said. "It's about us being together."

Performing in the Birthplace of Aviation
Mr. Tippin is familiar with the Dayton area. He has been to the museum several times, and is looking forward to playing the outdoor venue of Freedom's Call Tattoo. 

"We've got a few trinkets we like to pull the trigger on every once in awhile, and the outdoors works best for that. Also, an entertainer loves a great audience," he said. "You guys (the military) are a great audience."

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