It happened in Iraq. Balad, actually.

4/26/2007 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq – After five weeks of intense competition sponsored by the 332nd Expeditionary Services Squadron, the audience chose from the last six remaining contestants for the coveted title of “Balad Idol” at the H-6 Recreational Center April 24.


Senior Airman Elizabeth Milliken, a munitions systems journeyman with the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, received a thunderous round of applause and standing ovation from the huge crowd after performing Dusty Springfield’s 1968 classic song “Son of a Preacher Man.”

“I was very excited to win the contest,” said the new “Balad Idol,” who deployed here from the 31st Maintenance Squadron, Aviano AB, Italy. “It was like being able to put a valuable gift to good use,” she said.

Airman Milliken said she’s been singing since she was four years old, and her mother always put her and her siblings in plays and let them sing in church.

“Patsy Cline was the greatest influence on my desire to sing once I got older,” said the Kona, Hawaii native.

The field of contestants during the AEF 5-6 “Balad Idol” competition began with 26 people competing for the honor five weeks ago and was trimmed down each week by a panel of three judges including 2nd Lt. Tiffany Castleberry, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Lander, and Master Sgt. Kevin Dooms.

How lush and cozy, contestants, Lakisha, Melinda et al have it in Hollywood in comparison to our idols in Iraq.

After a brief break in the action due to an indirect fire attack, Mr. Michael Franklin, a contractor on LSA Anaconda, sang the popular Luther Vandross hit “Never Too Much,” which was also quite well received by the judges.


Closing out the opening round of performances was Army Specialist Joe Bateman, from the 875th Engineering Battalion, who played the guitar as he sang Toby Keith’s “American Soldier,” which provided a patriotic tug to the heartstrings of the audience.

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