Michael Ray Trains With Active-Duty Soldiers to Learn What It Takes to Serve America

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Country music star Michael Ray is usually busy with songwriting, media appearances, and planning his next tour. Recently, however, the “Whiskey and Rain” singer stepped away from his guitar and microphone to take part in an unusual project. Ray was the first star to appear on Inside the Base, a docuseries following the lives of active-duty troops.

Michael Ray traveled to West Point for the series, a four-year Military Academy whose mission is “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country.”

In an interview with We Are the Mighty, Michael Ray explained he’s no stranger to the values of West Point. Experiencing them firsthand alongside cadets, however, gave him a new appreciation for America’s military.

“Where I was raised, it’s very God, family, and country,” Ray explained. “From an early age, we were raised to respect and understand the rights that we have [and] the reason why we have them. The reason we have them is because men and women put it all on the line.”

Michael Ray has never served in the military himself. But he comes from a family of first responders who instilled a deep respect for those who put their lives on the line in service of others. Because of this, he wouldn’t trade his experience at West Point for anything.

“When this came up, I remember calling my manager immediately and telling them whatever we got to do for it,” Ray recalled. “Because [Inside the Base] is going to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Michael Ray Recalls His Experience at West Point

As part of Inside the Base, Michael Ray got the full West Point experience. From the moment he made it through security, he was thrown into the academy’s rigorous training schedule. Now, Michael Ray isn’t out of shape, by any means. But he quickly realized his regimen was nothing compared to the cadets’.

“Man, I feel like I keep myself in pretty good shape,” he said. “I workout, eat right. But just like when people watch the Olympics and they say they want to swim next to Michael Phelps to really see how fast [he] is… It was that type of thing.”

The academy-wide wake-up call was a startling experience for Michael Ray as well. “I didn’t know that they started their morning shooting the cannon,” Ray said. “It was just a really cool thing to see and I almost felt like I had a VIP ticket backstage.”

His short time among the cadets at West Point is an experience Michael Ray will never forget. He hopes, however, that his appearance on Inside the Base benefits the men and women of the military even more.

“As I’ve gotten further in my career and God’s blessed me with a bigger platform, it means a lot to me to shine that light on those men and women,” he explained. “[The military] gave me this chance because I was born in a place like the United States.”