Singer Mariah Carey entertains U.S peacekeepers in Kosovo

Tuesday, December 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Yugoslavia (AP) _ About a thousand U.S. soldiers serving in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo on Tuesday sang, clapped and cheered singer Mariah Carey, who brightened the day with a concert for American troops stationed in the southern province.

Many of the delighted soldiers were sporting pictures of the 31-year-old blonde singer, who first appeared in a glittering white dress, then changed to a blue one before donning an all-red outfit.

And many joined her singing. Some of them held up the U.S. flag together with the superstar and even decorated Christmas trees with her on a stage put up in a big military tent in this main U.S. base in Kosovo.

Others were wildly shooting pictures to document the rare visit of the singer, who in September released her first movie, ``Glitter,'' along with the soundtrack.

Staff Sgt. Jerry Jerome, 31, from Columbus, Indiana, who has spent a little more than a month in Kosovo, said he was very excited to be at Mariah Carey's concert.

``She is here because of us and we are here defending our nation and protecting our way of life,'' he said. ``And after Sept. 11 that way of life was infringed upon, and she is here thanking us for what we do and that's why it has meaning.''

The commander of the U.S. troops in Kosovo, Brig. Gen. Keith Huber, said he was privileged to present the singer, who has ``more no.1s than Elvis and the Beatles.'' In fact, in her stunning career, Mariah Carey has posted 14 No. 1 hits since her debut on Columbia Records in 1990.

Ms. Carey then kicked off her one-hour show with a kiss for all the soldiers in her concert. She ended it by signing her pictures for the soldiers.

The singer praised her fellow Americans in uniform for what they are doing to keep the peace in a troubled region.

``I have such an appreciation for what you are doing for our country and appreciation for the fact that not everybody does what you do,'' she told the peacekeepers before dedicating them a song _ a combination of her previous famous hit ``Hero'' and a song she wrote shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks: ``Never too far.''

``Remember that when you are out here freezing...,'' she told the soldiers after finishing the song. ``Know that everybody home loves you.''

Her appearance was organized by the United Service Organizations (USO), formed to bring comfort to troops overseas and Armed Forces Entertainment. Prior to Ms. Carey's visit, the camp had also been visited by other stars, including actress Selma Hayek.

Ms. Carey also visited smaller U.S. camps in Kosovo and had lunch with U.S. soldiers.

The United Nations and NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999 after Western airstrikes forced former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to end his crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanians, who form a majority in the province.