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ENTERTAINING THE TROOPS

Country singer Clint Black and comedian Al Franken performed for U.S. troops Monday at this staging post for the war on terrorism, kicking off a tour also taking them to bases in Italy and the Balkans.

About 2,800 people, Air Force personnel and their families, crowded into a hangar draped with a huge U.S. flag for a bill that included other country stars.

"They came to volunteer their time to honor you and your efforts," organizer Janet Cohen, the wife of former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, told the cheering audience.

The hub for U.S. air operations in Europe, Ramstein Air Base serves as the base for food drops to Afghan civilians alongside the U.S.-led strikes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Some 40,000 military personnel and their families live and work at Ramstein and the nearby U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl in rural western Germany.

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