08/05/2016

Navy veteran becomes KISS roadie for tonight's Moline show!

By Jonathan Turner / Dispatch-Argus

Tonight's KISS concert at Moline's iWireless Center will be particularly special for U.S. Navy Reserve Petty Officer Jody Harriman, of Davenport.

The 48-year-old Marion, Iowa, native who works as a postal carrier in Davenport was chosen by Hiring Our Heroes to be the band's "Roadie for a Day" as part of the KISS "Freedom to Rock" tour that began July 4th.

Mr. Harriman will help set up for VIP events today, meet the band, hear an acoustic set backstage, get two free tickets for the show and appear on stage during a military tribute.

"Being a KISS roadie to me is like having every dream come true," Mr. Harriman said in a news release about the program.

"This band has brought so much joy and happiness to my life since I first heard the magical sounds of 'Destroyer' in 1976," he said. "I was drawn to them as an 8-year-old boy, and they have been as much a part of my life then as they are now."

For the first time, KISS has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes and Vet Tix to honor veterans and active-duty service members.

“We are proud to partner with HOH and Vet Tix to highlight the incredible commitment and sacrifices of hometown heroes serving in the National Guard and Reserve forces,” KISS veteran Gene Simmons said in the release.

"KISS just really wanted to show their commitment to veterans," said Hiring Our Heroes spokesman Jeff Goonan. The organization helps veterans, active-duty military and their spouses find meaningful employment, he said.

Hiring Our Heroes works with local military units at each stop on the tour, determining who would appreciate the KISS "roadie" experience, Mr. Goonan said.

“Our military heroes are called upon, sometimes at a moment’s notice, to deploy into harm’s way, and they drop everything to respond.  It’s fitting to honor these men and women in their hometowns as part of the ‘Freedom to Rock’ tour,” HOH President Eric Eversole said in a news release.

At more than 30 U.S.concerts, KISS will hire a veteran or current member of the National Guard or Reserves to be a “Roadie for the Day.” The band also is donating tickets to veterans through VetTix.org.

“Getting the opportunity to partner with Hall of Fame rockers is an amazing opportunity,” said Mike Focareto, CEO of Vet Tix. “KISS fans get much more than live music and a pyrotechnics show; they get a chance to create unforgettable memories with their family and friends."

Mr. Harriman enlisted in the Navy in 1989 and was deployed in 1993 in the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group on the Red Sea supporting Operation Desert Shield. He enlisted in the Navy Reserves in March 2006 and served one year in a Navy Customs unit in Kuwait starting in December 2007. His service has earned him 18 awards and medals.

"They (KISS) have helped me through the good times, the bad times and everywhere in between," said Mr. Harriman, who attended KISS co-founder Paul Stanley's May 2014 book signing in Naperville.

He said meeting Mr. Stanley put him "in a complete state of euphoria, as there were many things I wanted to say but all I could muster was, 'Thank you so very much for everything you’ve done to make my life and others happier.' Paul grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and said, 'Thank you for sticking with us.'

"I made the three-hour journey back to lovely Davenport with tears in my eyes, as I had just shook the hand of my hero since childhood," said Mr. Harriman, who has seen KISS in concert 21 times.

"I am both amazed and astounded at how polished and powerful they are," Mr. Harriman said by email. "KISS opens every show with an announcer introducing them, 'You wanted the best and you got the best. The hottest band in the world, KISS!'

"Twenty-one times I’ve heard that live, and I get choked up with emotion because I don’t want it to ever end," he said.

During tonight's show, Mr. Harriman will be on stage as an oversized check for $150,000 is donated to Hiring Our Heroes. Mr. Goonan said that represents a one-time donation for the tour.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show run from $39.50 to $125.

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