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Fox News special follows 'Lt. Dan' as he visits the troops in Iraq

January 8, 2009 | 12:15 pm

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“CSI: NY” star Gary Sinise can be seen in a new time slot this weekend.

The actor will be featured in “On the Road in Iraq with Our Troops and Gary Sinise,” a documentary airing on Fox News at 6 p.m. PST Saturday. Culled from 26 hours of footage taken of a trip Sinise made to Iraq in July, the hour-long special traces his encounters with American soldiers across the country.

It was the fourth trip to the war zone for Sinise, who started traveling to U.S. bases with the USO after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said he agreed to let his friend filmmaker Jonathan Flora shoot footage of his trip last year to put a spotlight on the thousands of troops who remain in combat.

“Iraq is off the front page now and has been replaced with other things, so unless you are personally attached or involved with someone who has sacrificed, who is serving in the military, then you’re probably not too aware,” Sinise said in an interview.

“I have great respect for these volunteers who go out and defend this country. Showing some of what I see might help people understand them. Hopefully they’ll come away with a new perspective of who the folks are in the military. A lot of people have this strange perspective that anyone who joins the military either can’t get another job or is not educated, that they have no other options.”

Perhaps it would be different if the war in Iraq was more like World War II, he said, “where every single family in America was affected in some way.”

“Folks were having to really make sacrifices, we were rationing things,” he said. “But it’s still a distant thing.”

While plenty of soldiers in the field ask Sinise about “CSI,” he said he is most often recognized as Lt. Dan Taylor, the wounded Vietnam veteran he played in “Forrest Gump.”

“You’ve got to think, a lot of these service members, when ‘Forrest Gump' came out,’ they were 9 or 10 years old,” he said. “So they just call me that.”

When he’s shooting “CSI” during the year, Sinise often spends weekends flying to bases around the country to perform with his band -- dubbed the Lt. Dan Band.

-- Matea Gold

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