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Travis Tritt encourages soldiers ready to deploy to Iraq

FORT RILEY, Kan.—Country-western music star Travis Tritt received a thunderous "Hoo-ah!"—the military cheer—when he told 500 soldiers Friday that most entertainers support the war against Iraq.

Without naming any antiwar personalities, he said, "They are a very, very small minority."

Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the pop-country group Dixie Chicks, upset some people recently after she told a London audience "we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

In the packed Fort Riley movie theater, Tritt told the soldiers in his Georgia drawl: "I just want to let you know as a country we back you 100 percent." He was speaking to tank soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor of the 1st Infantry, which is beginning to deploy to Iraq.

One by one, soldiers walked onto the stage and posed for pictures with the star, the only person in the theater with shoulder-length hair and a goatee. He autographed the combat boots and camouflage floppy hats the soldiers will wear under the desert sun.

After the down-home visit with Tritt, the soldiers received some political backing, from U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

Brownback took the stage and fired a salvo at Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein: "It's time for his reign of terror to end. He is finished, and you guys are going to do it."


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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