Gary Sinise Tells Mike Rowe Emotional Story About First Time Visiting Troops

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Gary Sinise saw his career skyrocket after he portrayed Lt. Dan, the character who came from a long line of military officers, on Forrest Gump.

And since the movie, Gary Sinise has been a long-time supporter of the military. It’s his passion. Earlier this year, he even set up the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network for military vets and first responders. It’s mission is to help veterans and first responders suffer from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

But at one point, Sinise was anxious about meeting with the nation’s wounded veterans. He talked about the first time he ever visited the wounded during a conversation with Mike Rowe for his podcast. This weekend’s podcast of The Way I Heard It was about the 20th-year observance of 9-11.

Gary Sinise Remembered a Trip to Lanstuhl, Germany

Gary Sinise offered “one quick story” about his initial visit in 2003 to Lanstuhl (Germany) Medical Center, which is the largest military hospital outside the United States.

“I was apprehensive,” Sinise told Rowe. “They took me into a room and there were a bunch of banged up folks in there. They were going to get patched up in there and go back.

“I walked into that room and … there are 30 guys in here. They’ve all got a 1,000 yard stare. It’s all quiet. Everybody is kind of somber, nobody is happy.”

That’s when the popularity of Forrest Gump kicked in.

“One of (the soldiers) screamed Lt Dan,” Gary Sinise said. “The rest of them started looking and standing up and coming over to me. The whole mood changed from really sad, really somber, to everything changed. It was Lt. Dan.

“They didn’t know what my name was. I walked into that room thinking about myself, what’s it going to do to me to see wounded guys. I walked out of the room (saying) that’s why I’m here. I’m not here to think about myself. I’m here to change somebody’s day, to improve somebody’s day who deserves it. “

Rowe posted the clip on his Instagram. He captioned it: “A quick snippet from the current podcast with Gary Sinise, in which he shares how 9/11 changed his life.”

Fans Lauded Sinise For His Work with Military

Gary Sinise always supports the troops. Late last month, he posted a video of him lowering the flag to honor the memory of the 13 soldiers who died in a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. He said:

“In honor of the 12 marines and one Navy corpsman that we lost today in Afghanistan. Fifteen wounded, everybody who was serving over in Afghanistan, God bless you. We pray for you and your families. We pray tribute to all our fallen. We’ll never forget. Be safe, God bless all those serving in harm’s way. God bless our gold star families.”

On Tuesday, those who follow Mike Rowe lauded Gary Sinise and his message.

One wrote: “Love this..& love Gary Sinise for loving our military & ministering to them! I don’t think he has the full scope of what he did for all of them.”

Another replied: “How Gary has used his platform in such a positive way to serve others especially our military.”