The rocker shares thrills – and grief – with U.S. soldiers overseas

U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq got an all-American treat this Christmas: A visit from Kid Rock.

“This year for Christmas I wanted to make sure somebody was thanking our troops for their service, no matter what our views are on the current situation in Iraq,” the musician, 35, said in a statement.

“I could be spending Christmas with my family, but in my heart I know this is the right thing to do – not only for our men and women in service, but also to set an unselfish example for my son and send a strong message to the world to be thankful and think of others at Christmas time,” said Rock (real name: Robert Ritchie), whose son, Robert Jr., is 13.

He arrived in Kuwait from his Detroit hometown on Dec. 23 and from there flew to Iraq. On Christmas Eve, he writes in his online blog, he sang and signed autographs for 16 hours on visits to three separate camps. “Met lots of troops,” he writes. “Played my guitar and sang some songs for ’em, old school style no mic stand (so people had to hold the mic while I sang!!).”

Another highlight: “Had one of the most thrilling rides of my life in a Blackhawk today with some real ‘rock n roll cowboy pilots’!! I never knew you could do things like we did in a helicopter!!”

But things turned grim on Christmas when the troops learned one of their Hummers had been hit with in improvised explosive device while on a mission. “I went with the captain immediately to the hospital in Baghdad and hung with two soldiers who were injured,” Rock writes. “One of the other soldiers I do not think made it. I said a prayer for him.”

The rocker is due to entertain the troops through Dec. 29, the Associated Press reports. He first made such a trip in 2003 as part of a U.S.O. tour to Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq.