WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of the Navy gave the Navy Superior Public Service Award to country music singer Toby Keith Oct. 7 at a concert outside of Washington, D.C.
Wounded service members were special guests at the concert and some were present during the awards presentation backstage.
Cpl. Estaban Diaz-Rocha, a wounded Marine at Bethesda Naval Hospital, said that the support of the United Service Organizations, Toby Keith and the rest of America are an essential part of getting the job done in the field.
"We're out there doing our job and for us to know that the American people are behind us - that's great for us to know. It's going to help us win the mission," Diaz-Rocha said.
Rear Adm. Samuel Locklear, director of the OPNAV Staff programming division, presented the award to Keith backstage prior to the concert. He said that the award is a prestigious one, given by the former Secretary of the Navy, now Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon R. England. He said the award is only given to civilians who make a difference in the day-to-day lives of American troops.
"When a true patriot celebrity comes forward and can continue telling the rest of America how wonderful our troops are, the kind of work they are doing, and stay behind them when the going gets tough, is really a super thing," Locklear said.
For the last five years, Keith has been touring around the world in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo. He said he designates 17 days a year to the troops, along with his visits to Walter Reed and Bethesda military hospitals.
"I'm honored to do it. I hope it's as entertaining to the troops as it is to us. We have a great time doing it," Keith said.
Locklear said the award is just as much for the Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and Marines, as it is for Toby Keith.
"I think it's important for them [the American Sailors and troops] to recognize that they are spread out around the world doing work for this nation, protecting our freedoms. It's important for them to recognize that people back here, people like Toby Keith, care about what they are doing and that we recognize it," Locklear said.
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