Toby Keith Played For Over 250,000 US Service Members During 18 USO Tours

Veterans Heritage Learning Center via X

Toby Keith’s long-standing relationship with the USO

Toby Keith was a true patriot and was not afraid to show his love for America. This is made clear by his powerful anthems like “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” and “American Soldier.” But his passion for this country extended beyond the words of his songs.

For more than a decade, Toby Keith was one of the most popular acts for the USO (United Services Organization). The USO is a non-profit organization that provides live entertainment for service and their families while they are stationed overseas. By bringing musicians, comedians, and the like to military bases, the USO gives troops a taste of home while they are sacrificially serving to protect our freedoms.

Over the course of his career, Toby Keith completed 18 USO tours and performed for more than 250,000 active duty service members cumulatively.

Toby Keith was once shot at during a USO Tour.

During a 2023 interview, Toby Keith revealed that while traveling between bases during one USO tour, the military helicopter in which he was traveling came under fire. The pilot was able to successfully maneuver the aircraft so that no one was injured. Toby admits that they kept that story under wraps to avoid discouraging anyone from participating in overseas trips with the USO.

In an interview many year prior, Toby talked about how he felt safe going into war zones. He shared:

“You still have to get your mind set that you’re going to be in a chopper, in a war zone, you’re going to come under fire sometimes. You’re going to be involved in some stuff. But the second that it gets too hot, I look up and here comes a Cobra or an Apache (helicopter) to take us on in. You know they are going to make sure you’re taken care of.”

Toby Keith made a large impact on the troops he visited.

The fondness and appreciation that the country music icon felt for those serving our country was no doubt reciprocated by the military members he encountered while on tour. After his passing, one USMC veteran shared a video online that shows what it was like to be in the crowd of soldiers at a Toby Keith USO show. The caption sums it up perfectly:

“In the midst of war, a slice of home.”

Toby Keith received the Spirit of the USO Award in 2014.

To recognize Toby’s dedication, the USO surprised him with the Spirit of the USO Award in April 2024 while he was preparing for the Academy of Country Music’s ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops concert. During the presentation, then-USO President John Pray, Jr. said:

“On behalf of the USO and the Academy of Country Music, I am honored to present the Spirit of the USO Award tonight to Toby Keith, whose extraordinary passion for, and support of, our men and women in uniform and their families best exemplifies the ideals and mission of the USO by being ‘by their side wherever they serve.'”