Famed U.S. military booster Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band scrubbed plans to put on a concert this week after learning that there was a rare, active case of tuberculosis on base.
“He was very apologetic. He said, ‘I will reschedule. I’ll make the time. We’ll be down there,’ ” Guantánamo base commander Navy Capt. Dave Culpepper told base residents Tuesday at a community meeting.
Sinise pulled the plug Monday, in a phone call, a day after the base disclosed that there was an active TB case and Navy healthcare workers are following up to see if anyone else has it. No other active cases have been found. “While I really don’t think he had any personal concerns,” Culpepper said of his call with Sinise, “he basically said ‘I’m the one who has to order all these people to come. And I can’t do it.’ ”
It was the second year in a row that Sinise, who has traveled widely to entertain troops, scrubbed plans on short notice to play the downtown Lyceum, an open-air cinema not far from the commissary, McDonald’s, and a trailer park where some troops assigned to the prison live.
Monday, the movie theater was shut down and the base’s special trailer used by celebrities was parked on the site in anticipation of the visit. Tuesday, it was gone and the base screened “A Dog’s Purpose.”
Thursday, when the band was due to play, the Navy entertainment division will be showing the R-rated comedy “Fist Fight.”
The actor who played Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 movie “Forrest Gump” is known for his support of the military, particularly veterans. Plans for his performance have been underway since now-retired Marine Gen. John Kelly was commander of the U.S. Southern Command, and his wife, Karen, personally invited Sinise to play. That concert was canceled because Sinise had a family issue.
Kelly has moved on to serve as President Donald Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, but his wife was still involved in trying to hold the concert for the base’s 5,500 or so troops and civilians.
Sinise “and Mrs. Kelly were in agreement that they didn’t want to force anybody to come down here knowing there was an active case” of TB, the skipper said at the community meeting Tuesday. “I didn’t even argue with him. I didn’t think it was even worth trying to make him understand, I got one case, it’s in the hospital there’s no risk.”
Meantime, at the base hospital, which is on alert for other active TB cases, workers posted information on tuberculosis on its Facebook page — including in Tagalog in consideration of the hundreds of Filipinos who work on the base as Pentagon contract laborers.
Medical staff consider the issue contained, and said there is no reason to prevent travel to and from Guantánamo, where war-court pretrial hearings are underway in the USS Cole death-penalty case and more attorneys and legal staff arrive later this month for two weeks of hearings in the Sept. 11 terror case.