MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Dewey Square came to life on a blazing hot Wednesday afternoon as performers joked and sang for Marines and sailors during the “For the Leathernecks Comedy and Entertainment Tour II," June 12, 2013.
The Headquarters Marine Corps-sponsored tour returned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, this time bringing singer J Boog, and comedians Colin Kane and Rudy Rush to the stage. The Single Marine and Sailor Program on base also offered free lunch for single Marines and sailors prior to the event.
The “Leathernecks” tour, which is performing 24 shows aboard 18 installations this year, was created two years ago in response to requests made through the annual Single Marine Program conference, installation council board meetings and surveys.
“The Marines have enjoyed every bit of it,” said Michael Brown, a program specialist at the Single Marine Program and Recreation Centers of Headquarters Marine Corps. “We get so many comments from Marines at the installations about (the tour). They put it on Facebook, they (tweet) ... they do everything letting us know ‘hey, please continue this, because we’re enjoying it, it’s for us.’”
Brown is currently one of two coordinators for this year’s “Leatherneck” tour. He pointed out that contrary to other special events, Marines are not tasked into working party groups.
“Marines just have to sit here, laugh and have a good time,” Brown said. “That’s what we want, that’s what they want.”
Marines and sailors congregated on bleachers, folding chairs and even the grass, awaiting the entertainment. Sgt. Maj. Ernest Rose, the sergeant major of Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, offered a few words prior to the show.
“It was great,” Rose later said of the event. “I think everybody enjoyed it.”
First to the stage was Rush, whose resume includes “The Chappelle Show.” A native of New York City, Rush has performed comedy for more than 15 years. He said he plans to begin working on a new comedy special, possibly filming in Chicago. Rush said performing for the military achieved greater meaning than merely “giving back to our servicemen and women.”
“As civilians in the U.S., we take for granted some of the liberties that we have,” Rush said. “Meeting a lot of Marines and just getting some stories ... I have a rapport with some of them now.”
Rush has kept in touch with service members from his past shows, some of whom want to be comedians themselves.
“It actually feels so great when I see (military recruiting) commercials, when I see a vet in the street, I take the extra time and I really say ‘thank you,’ because we definitely need to give them a lot more props and credit than they’re given,” Rush said.
Upon finishing his set, Rush introduced Kane.
Kane, a New York native, has performed for numerous locations, from Los Angeles to Stockholm, Sweden. Outside of the “Leathernecks” tour, he will be promoting his own stand-up comedy tour, and working on a few TV and movie projects.
Kane recently performed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California, and is heading to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He said he is grateful to perform for the military and usually takes any opportunity he gets to do so.
“I didn’t really know as much about the military until I started doing these tours,” Kane said. “It made me have a greater appreciation for the men and women (in the military). Many of these people need a good laugh more than other people so (the “Leathernecks” tour is) really a great program.”
Later that afternoon, the speakers boomed and service members sung along and danced as musician J Boog and his band rounded out the tour with island and reggae-style music.
J Boog, a native of Compton, Calif., has been a musician for many years. The singer moved to the islands in 2006, and currently resides in Haleiwa, Hawaii. J Boog plans to tour the West Coast in July, and has an album in the works for September.
This is the first time J Boog has performed with the “Leathernecks” tour, and he said he is grateful for the opportunity.
“It was incredible, amazing (and) overall very well organized,” said Sgt. Poppy Reid-King, a battalion supply warehouse chief with Combat Logistics Battalion 3. “I had no idea (J Boog) was coming. He’s a fellow island brother doing something good for the Polynesian community.”
The native of Leone, American Samoa, said events like the Leatherneck tour was a way of increasing morale among the service members.