Robin Williams Cheers Up U.S. Troops

updated 10/22/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/2002 01:00PM

"Good morning, Afghanistan!" Robin Williams bellowed as he entertained American soldiers in a bombed-out hangar at Bagram Air Base in -- where else? -- Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports.

"I had a lovely military flight, thank you," the "Good Morning, Vietnam" star, 50, said in the midst of a USO tour. "I love spiraling in -- nothing like that to make your colon go, 'Fire in the hole!'"

Pointing to some bullet holes in the walls, the frantic comic jests, "And I love the lovely Afghan renovation in the wall."

Bagram Air Base is a place short on humor, according to AP, which describes the destination as a harsh, dusty place where soldiers work 12-hour shifts, six and seven days a week, in pursuit of an elusive enemy.

Williams visited late last week as part of a tour that also included bases in Kandahar and Qarshi, Uzbekistan. The Army permitted reporters to cover his appearance provided that their stories were not published until after Williams safely left the country Sunday.

The proviso was a condition requested by Williams's manager, says AP, because the comedian's family was worried about his being in a war zone.

Williams spent a day and night at Bagram. Although he did not perform an entire show, he reportedly shook countless hands, shared dinner in the mess hall and signed autographs. He also made endless wisecracks and, at one point, picked up an M204B heavy machine gun and struck a "Rambo" pose.

The crowd roared.

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