Nearly 11,000 deployed service members attend Star Wars screenings in Middle East

DALLAS – The Force was strong with troops deployed to the Middle East this holiday season as nearly 11,000 service members and Department of Defense civilian employees attended downrange screenings of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” courtesy of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Disney.

In all, 75 screenings were held between Dec. 20 and 28 at installations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Some events featured costumed patrons, photo ops and trivia contests. Attendance was strong enough in Iraq to warrant overflow seating or additional showtimes at three of the screening locations.

Ken Caldwell, senior vice president of North American sales and distribution for The Walt Disney Studios, appeared at screenings in UAE and Afghanistan to thank troops for their service and pass out special Star Wars Military coins to service members. Caldwell was personally escorted into Afghanistan by Sgt. Maj. Keith Craig, senior enlisted advisor for the Exchange in the Europe/Southwest Asia area.

“This is what the Exchange is all about – showing the men and women brave enough to defend this country that their service is valued,” said Chief Master Sgt. Sean Applegate, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “The Exchange is proud to provide America’s deployed service members with the opportunity to participate in such an exciting and historic worldwide event.”

Screenings were held at 12 different installations, starting with Camp Al Minhad in Dubai on Dec. 20 and ending on Dec. 28 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is one of the latest in a long-running series of first-run film screenings brought to troops by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

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The Army & Air Force Exchange Service goes where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives through goods and services provided. Exchange earnings provide dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs. The Exchange is part of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors, responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force through the Chiefs of Staff.  To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our Web site at or follow us on Twitter at


Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Conner Hammett, 214-312-2714 or