Comedian Dave Chappelle visits Joint Base Charleston
By Michael Dukes, 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 03, 2017
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Actor/comedian Dave Chappelle took time out of his busy schedule to visit troops at Joint Base Charleston Thursday while he was in Charleston for his stand-up comedy tour.
After visiting Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church, Chappelle took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather by riding his black Ducati motorcycle up to Joint Base Charleston’s main gate.
“I rarely get asked to come out and do things like this so it really means a lot to me,” said Chappelle about his visit to the base. “I appreciate all that the military does – your service and dedication means a lot.”
After arriving at the base, he was taken out to the flight line where he toured the Air Force’s most advanced airlift aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III. Once he took in the jet’s large size, Chappelle eagerly climbed the stairs into the aircraft’s cargo deck where he met an aircrew of Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing, including Maj. Corey Kemball, 701st Airlift Squadron, Capt. Keith Parker, 300th Airlift Squadron, and Master Sgt. Drew Cheek, 315th Operations Support Squadron.
Col. Gregory Gilmour, 315th AW commander, made sure that some of Team Charleston’s superior performers were given the opportunity to meet Chappelle at the static C-17.
“He certainly put a smile on everyone’s face,” said Col. Greg Gilmour, 315th Airlift Wing commander. “It is important for our Airmen, who work very hard, to hear people like Dave Chappelle sincerely thank them for their service.”
“It looks wildly uncomfortable, Chappelle said as he stepped onto the flight deck of the C-17 while looking at all the gears, controls and the aircrew seats. “I’m very impressed," he said with a big smile as he climbed into the pilot’s seat.
“I live near an Air Force base [Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio] and I see these guys flying around at low altitude and I always wondered what they were doing and what the plane looked like inside," Chappelle said while on the flight deck. “I still don’t know what they’re doing but, I know what they look like now.”
Later in the day at the Charleston Club, a crowd of more than 200 service members and federal civilians filled one of the salons to the brim to see Chappelle and have a chance to get a photograph with him.
“I know a lot of you live here around Charleston, and I know Charleston has been going through some hard times [referring to the Mother Emanuel Church shootings], but it’s been inspiring being around here this week and being at the base today – all of it makes me feel better,” Chappelle said to a large crowd of fans in the Charleston Club during his visit.
“You know, everyone in the country is going to complain about the elections, and this, that, and the other, but the thing that I’ve been feeling all week is the biggest threat to America is Americans and if we treat each other right, everything is going to be okay,” Chappelle added. “I’m very proud of you and very honored to be here with you today, and thank you.”
Accompanying Chappelle was his fellow Chappelle Show alumnus Donnell Rawlings. Rawlings, told the crowd at the Charleston Club that he often incorporates the Air Force into his stand-up routines, and as a four-year Air Force veteran he feels he’s entitled and obligated to do so.
But Rawlings said he didn’t stay in the Air Force longer than four years because he kept hearing, “Airman, you have a blatant disregard for Air Force standards.” After saying this, the crowd burst into a loud laugh and clapped their hands wildly.
Rawlings was a Security Police officer who joined when he was 17 and said he weighed about 97 pounds while soaking wet.
“Despite what people think, I really don’t use lotion – look at these hands, this is art imitating life,” Rawlings said referring to his Chappelle Show character Ashy Larry (who has chronically dry skin and lips)
At the end of his stand-up show later that night in downtown Charleston, Chappelle said, “Thanks to Charleston, and thanks to the Air Force Base for having me out earlier today.”