If it was hard for a bunch of soldiers in their 20s and 30s to take Paul Revere and the Raiders seriously, it didn't bother Paul Revere. He wasn't taking himself seriously, either.
The 66-year-old Revere was dressed in black stretch pants, a black admiral's jacket with gold trim, knee-high leather boots and his trademark patriot hat with white fur trim.
"Just imagine I'm Cap'n Crunch, and I've got a band, " said Revere on Wednesday to his audience of 3,300 members of the Idaho National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade and dignitaries including Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
Revere, of Boise, was the headliner in a night of entertainment for the troops at Camp Beauregard, La. Performers included Boise singer Nancy Roche and a video featuring members of the 116th set to country music star Toby Keith's song "American Soldier."
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The Guard members have spent
the past five months training in Texas and Louisiana.
About 1,000 of the 116th's soldiers already have flown to Kuwait, and the rest are scheduled to be there by the end of the week. Soldiers will continue training in Kuwait for a couple of weeks before leaving for northern Iraq in mid-to-late December. The 116th will be stationed at bases near the city of Kirkuk.
Wednesday night's show at the local auditorium was part of "Operation Thanksgiving, " a final send- off for the remaining troops. Some Guard members half-jokingly referred to the entertainment as "mandatory fun, " but after a few songs and Revere jokes, they soon loosened up and had a good time.
Today, soldiers will eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, potatoes and dessert at the decommissioned England Air Force Base.
"I will be proud to stand there and serve you, " Kempthorne told the soldiers Wednesday night at the concert.
The night also was a break from the weather, the tedium of waiting to leave for Kuwait, and the primitive living conditions.
Troops are staying in tents and "chicken coops, " which are tin-roofed buildings that have the upper half of their walls made of chicken wire covered with tarps. Tuesday night, torrential rains dumped water into living quarters and partially filled ditches on the base.
"We hope we can send you off with a good time, and we'll have an even bigger party when you come back, " Revere said.
The show was part rock-and-roll revival and part comedy routine as Revere led his band through hit records dating back to the '50s, decades before many of the 116th's soldiers were born.
"How come we play so many old songs?" Revere joked with the crowd. "Since we haven't had a hit in 35 years, that's all we've got."
But that didn't bother 31-year-old Spec. Troy Truax of Terre Haute, Ind. "They sound good, " he said. "They're playing a lot of music I remember growing up."
The show also was a boost for Jason Wendel of Garden City, who found out this week he won't be going to Iraq because of a torn ligament in his foot.
"I think I've heard some of their music, but I'm not sure, " he said. "I'm just killing time. There's not much else to do."
Soldiers received praise and good wishes from several speakers, including Kempthorne, Roche and the 116th's commanding general, Brig. Gen. Larry Lafrenz.
"I can't tell you how impressed and how humble I am standing before you today, " Lafrenz said.
Roche's set included "America the Beautiful, " "The Star Spangled Banner, " and "God Bless America."
"You are the rock of America, " Roche told the soldiers. "You are the fiber of the flag."