Monday, May 14, 2012


The USO recently hosted an event that would come to MCAS Iwakuni. The USO Handshake Tour brings stars of television shows to bases around the world. On all the bases Dustin has been stationed (including his deployment time) he has never met anyone he was excited to meet. It doesn't happen often. In the six years Dustin has been enlisted he has only seen one USO Handshake Tour and it was UFC fighters.

This time was a different experience. This time cast members from The Big Bang Theory and SouthLAnd were coming. We knew they were scheduled to come visit Iwakuni on Friday. Through my friends in Kure I learned that they would visit the small Army installation the day before and would spend a day sightseeing in Hiroshima. Dustin and I decided we would drive up to Kure (two hours away) and meet them in the more intimate setting. Boy, was that a good idea!

On Thursday afternoon we drove up to Kure and ate dinner in their small restaurant. Kure only had a total of 60 people working on the installation so the crowd would be much smaller.

Eating a quick sandwich while waiting
So then they joined us. Dustin and I sat and watched while they went around signing autographs and taking pictures. It was obvious someone had coached them on how to interact with the Japanese. Johnny Galecki (from The Big Bang Theory) was thrown for a loop with an older Japanese woman stuck out her hand for a handshake instead of the traditional bow greeting. He was half-bow when he stuck his hand out to meet hers so then he wasn't sure if he was to continue bowing or what. It was comical to watch and I wish I had caught it on camera.

Side note: I have wonderful grandparents. Over the years they have instilled excellent values and helped mold me into the person I am today. That being said, my grandmother once returned from visiting family in California with a signed napkin from a celebrity. I remember finding out later the flight attendant had signed the napkin for her. (I don't remember the celebrity, I was probably 7 at the time). It cracks me up every time I think about it. I was so excited and couldn't believe she had met someone I saw on the television! I also have a wonderful grandfather who once said, "If there are no pictures, it didn't happen." It was these two nuggets of wisdom I took with me to Kure that day. So I got signatures and pictures.

Johnny Galecki!
Now because of the smaller venue and fewer people the feel of the event was much more relaxed. We talked versus standing in line for a quick autograph and a hello/goodbye. Johnny Galecki played Leonard on CBS's The Big Bang Theory which is one of Dustin's top 5 favorite shows of all time. (Anything that combines Star Wars, video games, Battlestar Galactica, and science...) He was most excited to meet Johnny Galecki. He is very handsome and quite funny. His Japanese was atrocious, but who were we to judge. He bought Dustin drinks from the bar. That's right. Johnny Galecki bought Dustin a drink. Errr, three by the end of the night.

We quickly met Regina King and got her to sign our Boondocks DVDs. She plays a character on SouthLAnd, but Dustin and I have never seen the show. We know her from Boondocks and her movies (Ray, Jerry Maguire, etc). From my friends that work in Kure she was very high maintenance during her stay. When we met her she was very nice and posed for a picture before we walked away.

Regina King
The younger girls were all crowded around Ben McKenzie. I know him from The O.C. a teen drama that used to air on The CW. We talked to him briefly about their tour of Hiroshima and the Peace Park. He said he had a member of his family here at the time so it touched home. He was very nice and still just as dreamy as I remembered as a teenager.

Ben McKenzie
We kept being asked to stay posed for pictures by the photographer traveling with them. We struck up a conversation and discovered he was a former Marine that had been stationed in Iwakuni many years ago. (By his account, it hasn't changed all that much!) We spent a good time talking with him. If anyone ever needs a good photographer, check out Michael Clifton. Mike, next time we come through Atlanta, dinner is on us!

As the sun went down we found a spot near the bar and began talking with Michael Cudlitz from Band of Brothers. Between tequila shots (him) we talked about the local area, travel, their plans for the weekend, bars, his movies, and different tours he has been on.

We spent the rest of the evening talking with him. As the small crowd went home we decided it was time for us to start the drive back to Iwakuni. It was such a fun night! On Friday the group came to Iwakuni. Rather than an informal meet and greet the base set up lines with each star behind a table. A person would come up, get a signature, say a few things, and then get shuffled off to the next table. I am so glad we drove up to Kure instead. A very fun experience!


  1. Just so neat! I've been watching "Southland" since before it became a hit.

    1. I've not actually seen any episodes. We're limited to AFN and Hulu. Southland isn't on either of them yet. Maybe out library will get a few of the seasons. Is it a good series?

  2. I love reading all of your stories! They are always exciting!

    1. Sarah! I'm glad you enjoy! We are having tons of fun exploring the area. The culture is so different from anything we were used to! Let me know if there is ever anything you want to know or have a question about. If I can teach the Japanese that not everyone wears overalls from my home state then I will have succeeded in something!