Theodore's World: Dancers Arrive In Iraq

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August 27, 2006

Dancers Arrive In Iraq

Dancers Land in Iraq. Marines Offer No Resistance


One by one, the marines took the stage for one of the most coveted photo opportunities of the war. Tanea sat on a knee of an eager marine while Laurie rested on the other.

Hands on their miniskirted hips, Amber and Renee posed at each side. Dani stood behind and held the marine’s rifle as the camera snapped the photo. Some of the young marines who lined up for the memento were so mesmerized by the experience that they had to be reminded not to leave their weapons behind.

The Haditha Dam is in a hostile stretch of the Euphrates River 140 miles northwest of Baghdad where the marines do battle with insurgents in the oppressive heat. But for a few hours this summer, the chow hall inside the dam was transformed into a theater for five shapely dancers who seemed to embody many a young marine’s fantasy.

It was all part of a program to keep up morale in a war that is more dangerous than ever. There is a long history of providing entertainment for troops in war zones, including performances by attractive starlets. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell toured with Bob Hope in Korea, who delighted troops during four conflicts. Raquel Welch and Ann-Margret performed in Vietnam.

But at Haditha Dam, the marines have the Purrfect Angelz, as the dancers are known. Their tours, which organizers say are paid for by the military, have occasionally stirred some controversy. During the group’s 2005 visit to Baghdad, a female Air Force officer complained that the dancers’ wardrobes and routines encouraged insensitive attitudes toward women in the military.

On the group’s third tour of Iraq, there were no complaints from the boisterous crowd of male marines at the dam or the solitary soldier in the audience from Azerbaijan, who mistook the Oklahoma-born Tanea for a Russian. A small group of Iraqi Army officers who are being trained by the marines were so enthusiastic they all but rushed the stage and filled their digital cameras with this sampling of American culture.

Sgt. Dale Gooden, 31, a Marine reservist from Jacksonville, Fla., who is assigned to the dam security unit, saw the show as a sign that the American public had not forgotten about the troops. The most impressive part of the show, he said, was “just the fact that they came out here to see us.”

Certainly, Haditha Dam seems an unlikely venue. The 10-story hydroelectric dam, which was built in the 1980’s, was captured in the opening weeks of the American-led invasion. The secret Delta Force destroyed much of the Iraqi defenses near the dam, while Army Rangers swooped in later to seize the structure.

The Americans said the dam had to be taken to prevent Saddam Hussein from destroying it as part of a scorched-earth policy, though there is no indication that Mr. Hussein ever had such a plan. It was a firefight at the dam, in fact, that initially put it at risk. After discovering that the poorly maintained dam was damaged in the fighting, a sergeant in an Army civil affairs unit flew to the site and worked with the Iraqi engineers to keep the dam functioning.

During a multimillion-dollar repair project by the Army Corps of Engineers, the dam’s turbines were rehabilitated. In addition to generating electricity, the dam also serves as a headquarters for the Marine battalion that is charged with securing the Haditha area and is home to a small contingent of troops from Azerbaijan who are helping the marines guard the structure.

For the Purrfect Angelz, it was a stop on a tour that also took them to bases like Al Qaim and Taji. The dancers, former cheerleaders, calendar models and aspiring actresses, have an active schedule in the United States, much of which consists of events for motorcycle riders. By design, the routines at Haditha are a bit tamer than the biker fare.

“We want to make it more about talent than being risqué,” Tanea Brooks said. “We are not going to boost every part of the morale.” Her credits include a three-year stint as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, a role in a country music video, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” by Trace Adkins, and a turn as quarterback for the New York Euphoria, one of the teams that established the Lingerie Football League, in which models played football dressed in underwear.

But for marines who deploy for seven months at a stretch, are forbidden to consume alcohol, have no real opportunities for social interaction with the Iraqi population and routinely travel down roads seeded by roadside bombs, the performance was exciting enough. “Servicemen are our best audience,” said Ms. Brooks, who gave her age as “21 forever.” “They are so appreciative. We love touring for them. They always get excited.”

David Chavez, the president of Pro Sports MVP, which organized the tour, said that it was paid for by the military and that the expenses consisted of travel costs and small stipends. A Pentagon spokesman said he had no immediate information on what the tour cost or the financial arrangements.

A recent show began with an entreaty by a diligent sergeant who saw the event as an opportunity to appeal to the marines to re-enlist. He was loudly shouted down. An announcer who was traveling with the dance group told the marines not to pay attention to news media reports that the American public did not support the war. The nation, she said, was solidly behind them.

Then the dancers, in revealing outfits, energetically performed dance routines that were more rousing than most Super Bowl halftime acts — wardrobe malfunctions notwithstanding — but far less provocative than Las Vegas shows. At one point, one of the Angelz sang Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” a veritable anthem for many of the troops.

The event wound up with the photo and autograph session. Then it was on to the next stop.

The troops’ verdict on the tour seemed to be summed up by an e-mail message that an Army captain later sent the dancers from the base at Taji. He thanked them for helping to “make us forget about our jobs for a little while.”

Click HERE to see their website

Wild Thing's comment.......

Bob Hope used to say on a tour "Let me show you what you guys are out here fighting for".

I love it when people go and entertain the troops.

Posted by Wild Thing at August 27, 2006 12:55 AM


Bob was right WT, I reckon the Muzzies will be blinding themselves too. I remember when Hope came to our area the excitement was palpable in the entire battalion, beans and bullets superceded my show time but it was great to see the morale shoot up like that. Thank you for being there for us.

Posted by: Jack at August 27, 2006 01:05 AM

Jack hahaha I bet your right. I was wondering if the Muzzies would be peeking, or just outright watching. heh heh

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 27, 2006 01:09 AM

Any bit of Stateside entertainment or celebrities is really enjoyed by the troops. Too bad one female officer was offended. Either she doesn't pay attention to the sports hunks and males that tour, or she may have been just trying to cover-up her gayness.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have been doing this for the troops for decades. A few sourpusses not withstanding, everyone else enjoys the shows and tours.

Posted by: TomR at August 27, 2006 03:01 PM

Hahaha Tom, you right, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders have been there a lot and no complaints. I would have just laughed off the female officers comment and told her to keep good aim on shooting the terrorits. heh heh

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 27, 2006 03:59 PM

There is one in every crowd,and if it was a
gay thing just look fot thr one with a little
drool and lots of sweat...and this page looks
like a good place to drop a very important
post from Blackfive

Comment below written by: john
Subject: Operation 9/11 Remembrance and Reflection

Please join us in this campaign and PLEASE forward this email
immediately to everyone in your address book asking them to also
forward it. We have about two weeks to get the word out all across this great land and into every community in the United States of America. If you forward this email to least 11 people and each of those people do the get the idea.

THE PROGRAM IS THIS: On Sunday, September 11th, 2006 - the Fifth Anniversary of the attacks on America - an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country's worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to
endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad on our behalf.

In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed
in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood
shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all
but disappeared or have been left tattered. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn't take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our american flag is the fabric of our country and together we can
prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

Action Plan: So, here's what we need you to do...

(1) Forward this email to everyone you know (at least 11 people).
Please don't be the one to break this chain. Please take a moment to think
back to how you felt on 9/11 and let those sentiments guide you.

(2) Fly an American flag of any size on 9/11. Honestly, Americans
should fly the flag year-round, but if you don't, then at least make
it a priority on this day. If you don't have a flag or if the one you
have is a little worn, you can get one at your local hardware store
or you can get one for free by visiting
right now. They mail a flag straight to your door.

Thank you for your participation! God Bless You and God Bless America

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at August 27, 2006 08:30 PM

Now thats what I call proof reading "fot thr "
ACTUAL "FOR THE" Oh well!!!

Posted by: Tincan Sailora at August 27, 2006 08:34 PM

Thank you Tincan Sailor

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 28, 2006 12:03 PM