FORT DRUM When Gary Sinise started visiting soldiers abroad as part of the USO a few years ago, the men and women in uniform often referred to the actor and musician by his most famous role: Lieutenant Dan, Forrest Gumps officer in the Vietnam War and his shrimp boat first mate in the Oscar-winning 1994 film.
So when Mr. Sinise busted out his bass and started playing concerts for soldiers in 2004, there was only one sensible name the band could pick: the Lt. Dan Band.
It seems like everyone saw the film of Forrest Gump in the military, Mr. Sinise said. I havent really met anybody in the military that hasnt seen that movie. I think they related to the character a bit.
The band made an appearance at Fort Drum on Sunday, entertaining a capacity crowd of 10th Mountain Division soldiers and their families at the Magrath Sports Complex. The concert started with snippets from the movie, which drew raucous cheers and laughter from the crowd.
Soldiers said they appreciated Mr. Sinises presence and his music the band plays cover songs, mostly of classic rock tunes.
It gives us more motivation, said Spc. Christopher A. Harriman, who returned from Afghanistan two months ago as part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Teams mission.
Spc. Harriman said he knows Mr. Sinise from the television show CSI: New York and from the 1994 film. Mr. Sinise was nominated for best supporting actor as the gruff but honorable Lt. Dan Taylor.
Spc. Harrimans wife, Erika N., said she appreciated Mr. Sinises sacrifice.
Its a very selfless act, to do this in his off-time, she said.
Mr. Sinise said it is the soldiers themselves who make the real sacrifice.
Entertaining and giving back to our troops is something I very much believe in, Mr. Sinise said before the concert. Now that Ive done it so much, I know it makes a difference when we show up at a place like here at Fort Drum. There are a lot of people stressed, working very hard. Its a good feeling to be able to give back.
In 2010, Mr. Sinise founded the Gary Sinise Foundation, which helps support members of the armed forces, veterans and first responders.
For more about Mr. Sinises efforts to help soldiers, visit: http://www.garysinisefoundation.org.