CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Operation Swashbuckle cut a swath through stress and tension with laughter here March 26.
The four-man comedy show, presented by Hack and Slash, provided an explosive round of entertainment for more than 100 Marines, sailors and soldiers here serving with the 2nd Marine Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to "Slash" Spencer Humm, the operation has a three-fold goal. First, they are a morale boosting show for service members deployed overseas; second, they act as ambassadors of goodwill to the local populace of the countries they visit; and third, they work to build awareness in the United States of the great work service members are accomplishing overseas.
The show was definitely a morale booster for a Indianapolis, Ind., native and his fellow service members attending the performance.
"It was outstanding," Lance Cpl. Jason E. Myer said. "For the hour and a half we were in there, I was able to forget about everything and even forget I was in Iraq."
Giving the service members an escape from their day-to-day routine is exactly what they want to do, said Slash's partner "Hack" John Davis.
The 40-year-old Pittsburgh native said, "One of the Marines told me, 'This morning I was in a firefight; this afternoon I forgot about it for an hour and a half.' That is what we are here to do."
The show consisted of a combination of comedy, juggling, sword and weapons tricks and audience participation.
"The best part of the show was when they got me on stage," said Myer, an administration clerk with the division.
"The first thing I told my friends when we arrived for the show was that I hope they don't get me get me up on stage. That is just what happened.
"I was so nervous with stage fright," he continued. "It was cool though how they tricked me and it was really fun."
The Hack and Slash 'Shakespearean comic-sword fighting duo' have been performing together for more than 13 years.
In 2001 they began touring with Armed Forces Entertainment just after Sept. 11, creating Operation Swashbuckle according to Slash. The 35-year-old said they don't normally perform with juggling comedians, 42-year old Todd Key of Grantville, Ga. and 36-year-old Dan Thurmon of Snellville, Ga., their fellow members of "The crime-fighting team known as K.A.R.L." which they dramatically introduced at the beginning of their performance.
"We put this together just for Operation Swashbuckle," Slash said. "We call ourselves a Comic Expeditionary Force."
Since starting this production, this is the first year they have performed for the troops serving in Iraq.
"Up until now, Armed Forces Entertainment has kept us in Europe," Slash said. "This is our first time in Iraq and we are very excited. We are finally downrange were the shows are most needed."
Armed Forces Entertainment has this comedic weapon on rapid fire, completing three shows in three nights with another three shows in the next three nights.
This fast-paced schedule doesn't seem to set back these loyal entertainers though.
"Our motto is travel fast, pack small and play big," Slash said.
"We support all the troops," he continued. "The loyalty of those who do their duty for our country astound us. We are here for them."
In turn the service members are there for Operation Swashbuckle as well.
"Everywhere we've been since 2001, the military has been the best customer. They are friendly, accommodating and the most receptive audiences we've had the pleasure of performing for," Slash said.
Many of the attending service members plan to make this the first of many viewings of the Hack and Slash comedy show.
"When I get home, this is something I want to take my wife to see. My son too when he gets older," said 25-year-old Myers. "They said they don't do shows where I live, but I would definitely travel to see them again."