Through music, jokes and more, Michael Peterson brought smiles to troops as they spent the 2010 holiday season away from home.

After spending the 2010 holidays in Iraq entertaining hundreds of servicemembers, country music star Michael Peterson came home with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices the men and women continuously make. Peterson’s two-week travels took him and managing partner Jill Chambers, a retired U.S. Army colonel, to several Forward Operating Bases, including Baji, Taji, Ramadi, Cobra and Warhorse.

“This was an incredible trip,” Peterson said. “The most obvious takeaway has been that these servicemembers deeply appreciate something that will break the routine, if only for an hour or two. In places that have amenities like fast food restaurants or coffee huts, there seems to be more smiling. The places without those kinds of resources seem to be the most primed for benefitting from care packages.”

During his time with the servicemembers, Peterson brought out laughter from his jokes, shared personal life obstacles, spoke inspirational quotes, belted out old hits such as “From Here to Eternity,” and even autographed a guitar for a soldier’s brother.

Upon his return to the states, Peterson read e-mails from many servicemembers on how his entertainment brought joy to their lives in a time of sadness from being away from family over the holidays.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to all who are away from their families to have a show such as what you put on to spark a spirit of peace, joy, and a happy heart.” – Doug Hansen, JSS Shield

“While we are a small group, your laughter, music and thoughts made yet another Christmas away from my family a bit easier. Thank you for your service to us and, in your own way, to our country.” – Mark Patton, U.S. Navy

“You all came all this way many times this year just to continue to encourage us and to share a good time with us. I know you share it as an honor for you, but the time you all shared with us was/is sincerely appreciated and priceless.” – Jerome Hodge, USAF

“My colleagues and I absolutely enjoyed the songs and entertainment, as well as some hilarious jokes. For a few hours in time, you enabled us to think about something else besides work, reflect on our lives and confirm what we value most – our families and friends who are spending Christmas without us this year.” – Col. Gerhard Schröter, USF-I, J4