Toby Keith Joined on Stage by Afghanistan Veteran

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Last month, country music star Toby Keith invited a longtime friend and Afghanistan veteran on the Pala Casino stage in California.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Michael Boom helped Keith sing “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” (sometimes also called “The Angry American”).

“It was an honor to represent the military that night,” Boom said.

Boom, a Pomona resident, has been friends with the country singer for about eight years. During a tour stop to entertain his soldiers, Boom showed Keith around their base.

Since then, Boom said he would go to any nearby concert within a two-hour drive if he’s living.

Boom said Keith or one of his reps would oblige the retired Army man, giving him however many tickets he needs to come to a show.

Here Comes The Boom

Boom cherishes his friendship with the singer, saying “nice guy” Keith “doesn’t forget those he met downrange.”

According to the Village Sun, Boom served as an airborne ranger in the Army for 30 years. Boom started in 1983 and retiring in 2013. The Sacramento-born man moved to the San Diego area after he retired.  

Keith visited Iraq and Afghanistan combat areas, and Boom recalled that the singer wanted “to go where the soldiers are.” 

“He’d go out to some desolate outpost,” Boom said. “It meant a lot to the soldiers.”

Boom said Keith’s decision to go by Humvee or helicopter was dangerous, but the singer just wanted to go and visit the soldiers. Boom said most people didn’t realize Keith’s determination in making those trips.

One Keith Show

The former Army man was at a base near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when he first met Keith. Boom was in charge of 4,000 soldiers there. Keith made an unannounced appearance by helicopter, and Boom said his soldiers went “berserk.”

Boom wanted to surprise his soldiers, telling them a military band was performing before Keith appeared. The Sergeant Major said Keith performed a “long” concert in front of a large American flag for the men. Afterward, Keith talked with the soldiers and got a few new friends in the process.

Keith A New ‘Bob Hope’

Boom calls his friend the “new Bob Hope” and knows that the singer performed in 240 combat zone shows. He admires the singer for his patriotism and knows soldiers “love him.”

The retired man knows his country music, even seeing Johnny Cash was he was a kid. Boom said he became a fan of Keith when he performed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky years ago.

Also, there’s no word if Keith had Boom in mind when he titled his 1995 second album, Boomtown.

After getting discharged, Boom saw Keith perform in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville. He’s seen him twice at the San Diego County Fair, and at the second fair stop, Keith had the man come up on stage for his “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” song.

The Pala Casino gig was Boom’s fourth Keith concert since the Afghanistan visit. After giving his manager a friendly request for tickets, Boom got in.