Originally created 01/04/06

'American Idol' star entertains U.S. troops



ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT - How does an 18-year-old "American Idol" star stay fresh and pretty while traveling to seven countries in seven days to entertain the troops?

Diana DeGarmo says you sleep and eat on schedule - and it helps to bring along your mom.

"Some people might call me a party pooper," she told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday on a military aircraft en route to Germany for the final stop of the tour. "But you just have to do it."

DeGarmo visited several U.S. bases in the Middle East and eastern Africa to host holiday shows with comedian Reggie McFadden and country singer Michael Peterson. They were traveling in a delegation led by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace.

The weeklong United Service Organizations tour started at an air base near Doha, Qatar, and included stops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Djibouti and the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier somewhere in the central Arabian Gulf.

DeGarmo, last season's runner-up to Fantasia Barrino on the Fox "American Idol" reality show, said she had "learned that there's more to this war than sending troops overseas. They're missing so much and risking their lives."

The singer, who brought her manager and mother, Brenda DeGarmo, asked for several volunteers to come onstage for a dance contest in each performance and ended by singing "America the Beautiful."

She said one of the strangest moments on the trip was performing for dozens of shivering troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, with helicopters flying overhead and people shouting. She also spent the night in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces.