CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- -- Multi-National Forces – West received an exponential boost in power when action films stars Chuck Norris and Marshall Teague visited Camp Fallujah Nov. 1.
The visit was part of their United Service Organizations-sponsored tour of Al Anbar Province, Iraq, and Kuwait.
“I came out here to see the morale of the troops and give them a morale boost,” said the 66-year-old martial arts expert. “If it helps them in any way positively, I’m elated.”
Brig. Gen Robert B. Neller, deputy commanding general for MNF-W, and Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, commanding general MNF-W, worked diligently to bring Norris and Teague here for their deployed warriors.
Norris explained he planned to visit Iraq three years ago, but because of an impending major operation he was unable to make the trip. He said he believes the operation was tied to the capture of Saddam Hussein, which was announced two days after the trip cancellation.
During their tour, they were able to observe an operations intelligence briefing, visit Fallujah Surgical, and were given a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstration at the chapel.
The service members who attended the assembly at the chapel looked ecstatic when Norris and Teague arrived there, chanting “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck …” and the troops broke into an uproar when the living-legends entered the building.
Before the Marine Corps Martial Arts demonstration, Col. George H. Bristol, Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group commanding officer, spoke about the program’s benefits to the user. Bristol mentioned that when he was putting together the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Chuck Norris was one of the first people to take an interest in the development.
“The Marine Corps is a fighting organization, based on honor, courage, and commitment, and that’s how Chuck Norris has lived his life. This is a match made in heaven,” said Bristol.
Following the demonstration, Norris highlighted his career as a martial arts expert and movie star in a speech to more than 1,000 service members. He also talked about his Kick-Start program for teaching middle-school kids martial arts and keeping them away from drugs and gangs. The statement earned him an ovation from the crowd.
Norris also saluted all the military members who attended, and let them know how special the military is to him.
“The military is very close to me, because it turned my life around,” Norris said about his four-year tenure in the Air Force, where he served in Korea in the early ‘60s. “Joining the military helped me get on the right path.”
“It’s cool to have someone of his stature out here,” said Cpl. Michael E. Hamilton, a scout sniper with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. “(The USO) could have sent somebody who had nothing to do with the military, but they sent Chuck Norris.”
“I think it was great he came out here to see us,” said Sgt. Frank Ellin, staff secretary administration noncommissioned officer and information systems coordinator. “I know he’s busy, and it was awesome he came out here to see us troops and raise our morale.”
Norris and Teague will see more than 10,000 troops in their four-day volunteer tour of Al Anbar Province and Kuwait, said Rachel M. Tischler, USO director of entertainment.
Norris also spoke about how he already had ties with troops deployed to Iraq.
“We communicate to a lot of troops out here through our Web site,” the Walker Texas Ranger star said. “I’m a spiritual leader to 10 platoons here in Iraq.”
The master of the roundhouse kick also mentioned what will stick out to him the most about his visit.
“I’ll remember the smiles on the faces of the troops. They’re great kids out here,” he said. “These troops are motivated to win this war.”