Elizabeth Banks and USO Tour Veterans Chris Daughtry, Kyle Jacobs and Friends Wrap Up USO Holiday Tour Led by General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.

Also joining the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are comics Sydney Castillo and David Wain; Boston Red Sox' Heath Hembree and Steven Wright; and songwriters Brett James and Billy Montana


ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 9, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. officially concludes his first-ever USO holiday tour, which has brought smiles, laughter and good times to more than 3,100 service members and their families. Emmy nominated actress, producer and director Elizabeth Banks accompanied the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with USO tour veterans Chris Daughtry and Kyle Jacobs, as well as comedians Sydney Castillo and David Wain; Boston Red Sox pitchers Heath Hembree and Steven Wright; and songwriters Brett James and Billy Montana. This trip, which spanned five countries, marked the sixth USO tour for Jacobs, the third for Daughtry and the first USO experience for the remainder of the group, including the Chairman. ***USO photo link below***


• In total, the USO holiday tour visited, entertained and brought a touch of home to service members and their families stationed in Italy, Djibouti, Afghanistan,
Bahrain and Germany.

• Designed to deliver a much-needed break to Marines, airmen, soldiers, sailors, coast guardsmen and civilian employees currently deployed or stationed overseas, this year's trip toured six military bases, visited the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and hosted five variety show style concerts.

• Emmy nominated actress, producer and director Elizabeth Banks is coming off a critically acclaimed role in the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy and was also recently seen reprising her role as 'Effie' in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. She made her directorial debut with the summer box office hit Pitch Perfect 2, which was the highest opening for a musical in history and the biggest opener for a first-time feature film director.

Sydney Castillo has performed at some of the most renowned comedy clubs across the country. His unique style is a "bougie" perspective with a splash of southern charm. As of recent, he is fresh off filming 50 Shades Of Black with Marlon Wayans, scheduled to come out in Jan. 2016. Winner of Marlon Wayans' new hit show Funniest Wins on TBS, Castillo produced his first comedic web series "The Green Room" with Russell Simmons. Seen on FX's The League, the Game Show Network's Mind of a Man, BET's Real Husbands of Hollywood and Socially Offensive Behavior, he also stars on Lifetime's Prank My Mom.

• Since emerging in 2006, the Grammy Award®-nominated multiplatinum quintet—fronted by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Chris Daughtry—has headlined countless sold out shows in arenas worldwide. Their self-titled first offering earned the title of "fastest-selling debut rock album in Soundscan history," while all four full-lengths bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200 upon release. To date, their catalog boasts unforgettable anthems ranging from "It's Not Over," "Home," "Feels Like Tonight," and "No Surprise" to "Crawling Back To You" and 2013's gold-certified "Waiting for Superman." As the group continues making music and touring globally, Daughtry remains synonymous with rock 'n' roll in the 21st century.

Richard "Heath" Hembree is a right-handed relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. In 2015, Hembree pitched in 22 games for the Red Sox compiling an ERA of 3.55 and finishing 9 games. Fellow teammate Steven Wright is also a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. During a game started on Friday, April 10, 2015 against the Yankees, Wright became the winning pitcher on record for 5 innings of relief in what would become the longest game yet played in the new Yankee Stadium.

Kyle Jacobs moved to Nashville from Minneapolis, MN in 2000 and achieved his first significant success as a writer in 2003 with Kimberly Locke's Top 10 AC single "8th World Wonder." In 2007, he wrote what became the fastest rising single in the history of country music, Garth Brooks' "More Than A Memory." He also co-wrote the Top 10 singles "Still" by Tim McGraw and "Dust" by Eli Young Band. With songs featured in ABC's NASHVILLE, Jacobs' songs have been recorded by such stars as George Strait, Tim McGraw, Lee Brice, Eli Young Band, Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, Trace Adkins, Kelly Clarkson, Randy Travis, Craig Morgan, Jo Dee Messina and others.

• Named Music Row Magazines' Songwriter of the Year in 2014, Brett James has had more than 450 of his songs recorded by some of the biggest recording artists in the world. He won a Grammy in 2006 for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and has had numerous hit singles including 23 No. 1's. In 2014 alone, James scored six top ten singles including the #1's "I Hold On" for Dierks Bentley, "Bottoms Up" for Brantley Gilbert, "Something in the Water" for Carrie Underwood and the smash duet "Something Bad" recorded by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. The list of artists who have recorded Brett's songs includes Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Will i Am, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Leona Lewis and Daughtry, among countless others.

Billy Montana has achieved four Number 1 Country singles, which include "Hard To Love" by Lee Brice (2013), "More Than A Memory" by Garth Brooks (2007), "Suds In The Bucket" by Sara Evans (2004) and "Bring On The Rain" by Jo Dee Messina (2002). First inspired to pick up a guitar as a teenager in rural upstate New York by his musician father, Montana traded studying agriculture at Cornell University for a record deal on Warner Brothers. Many prominent artists including Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Pat Green, Jo Dee Messina, Sara Evans, Blake Shelton, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Sister Hazel, Steve Holy, Lee Brice, Jon Pardi, Kenny Rogers and Lee Ann Womack have recorded his songs.

David Wain is a writer, director, actor, and comedian. He has won two Emmys for his work on TV's Children's Hospital and is best known for such projects as The State, Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models, Stella, Wainy Days, Wanderlust and, most recently, the Netflix original series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.


Attributed to General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.:
"It's an always honor for me to visit and talk with our service members, civilians, and families, especially those serving overseas. Being able to do it during this special season with the members of the 2015 USO Entertainment Troupe is an even greater honor. Ellyn and I are very proud of our service members, civilians and their families. We thank all of them for their dedication and continued sacrifice and wish all a safe and wonderful holiday season."

Attributed to Sydney Castillo:

"I'm honored to meet people I consider heroes. My father was in the military and I'm forever grateful for the military's service. I want to meet every soldier I can on this trip to personally tell them, I'm able to live my dream because of the safety you provide. Thank you."


USO Tour Photos: http://bit.ly/1PYGTlJ

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About the USO

The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.

In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President's Circle Partners: AT &T, the BNSF Railway Foundation, Clark Construction Group, LLC, The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, NFL and Four-Star Partners: BIC, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, GEICO, JCPenney, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, TKS and the Wawa Foundation. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:



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