Magician Entertains Troops in the Middle East

MAY 17, 2024


A resident of Hilliard, Comedian and Magician Michael Kent, recently returned from the Middle East where he was asked by The U.S. Navy’s MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Dept. and Navy Entertainment to present his show to service members stationed at NSA Bahrain and on-board an active aircraft carrier at sea. 
“It’s the greatest honor to perform for these folks,” said Kent, a 2001 graduate of The Ohio State University. Many of them haven’t been home in a long time, and in the case of the folks out at sea, they’ve been working since November without shore leave and giving them a tiny break from the monotony and hard work is the least I can do for them.”
Part of Kent’s trip involved landing and taking off from the deck of the moving aircraft carrier, which he describes as one of the most intense experiences in his life. This tour marks the 5th time Kent has been asked to travel overseas to perform for American troops. He’s now visited 30 military bases to present his show.
Michael’s show is a combination of Comedy and Magic that has earned him past titles of “Entertainer of the Year” and “Magician of the Year” as well as being featured on The CW television show “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” He has been performing professionally for 21 years.


I recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, where I was asked by the Navy’s MWR Department/Navy Entertainment to perform my show for American Service members serving overseas. This was my fifth time going overseas to perform for the military, but I was more nervous for this one. One, because it was all arranged very last-minute and two, because I would be doing something I’d never done before. More on that later.

My flight from JFK Airport to Qatar was about 13 hours, then another hour to Bahrain. At first, the word was that my next bit of travel would be about 90 minutes by plane to where the first show would be and I would be leaving around 11am the next day. Once I arrived in Bahrain, plans had changed a bit and I was informed that we’d be leaving at 4am and would meet in the lobby at 2:30am. The next morning, I’d be flying via C-2A Greyhound (nicknamed “COD”) to an active aircraft carrier at sea! And the ride out to the carrier was quite a bit longer than advertised (a few hours) with a stop in another country for refueling!

A video of the C-2A Greyhound (COD) landing on the carrier deck.

The C-2A has seats that face backwards to help mitigate the extreme forces involved with landing on a carrier deck and being caught by arresting cables. This landing was the most intense thing I’ve ever done. I’m a pretty adventurous guy, but this one got me. I instantaneously sweat through all my clothes and couldn’t feel my hands! By the time the plane came to a stop on the deck, I thought I was going to throw up. The XO of the ship, Capt. Michael Marks (a fellow Buckeye) met me and walked me to the Captain’s reception room where I met the Captain, Chris “Chowdah” Hill, and was gifted a hat.

I got to have a nice chat with Capt. Hill, who has a very active presence online and is doing a really great job of keeping up morale on the ship. These folks have been deployed since November without shore leave and are working hard 12-hour shifts months on end. He tries hard to acknowledge their effort and encourage them to continue working hard every day. And I was amazed at how hard everyone works! I did my best to let them know how appreciated they are every chance I got. They’re doing that job day-in and day-out and it probably gets boring or monotonous to them, but I wanted them to know how people back home feel about what they’re doing.

I loaded my gear into my stateroom, which was comfier than I imagined, but still tight quarters, and was then escorted by the Safety Officer (another fellow Buckeye) to the flight deck to observe flight operations. They’re launching something like 90-100 flights a day from the ship right now and it seems like it never stops. I’ve been around jets plenty. Between air shows and working with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, I’ve even been pretty close to them. But I’ve never been THIS close. With double ear-protection, full cranial helmet and goggles, I was STILL rocked by the power of these F/A-18E and F/A-18F jets being sent off the deck via catapult, standing only 50 feet away.


A video I took of an F/A-18F being launched via catapult from the ship
A video I took of an F/A-18E landing and being captured by arresting cables on the deck.

My first show was that night, but before that, I was asked to join the Captain for dinner as he honored Sailors from the Nuclear Reactor team who were being celebrated for various achievements on board. They were being rewarded with a pizza party and I was able to perform some close-up magic for this group. The Reactor team is one that sometimes doesn’t get to enjoy activities like the rest of the ship because they’re down deep in the core of the ship constantly keeping it powered. After the show, we loaded into the foc’sle, which is where the anchors, anchor chains, and gigantic tie-down lines are all kept. It’s a hard metal room directly below the forward flight deck and hearing planes operate overhead was LOUD. Thankfully, there weren’t any launches during the show and the 150 or so Sailors that packed in had a great time!

Subsequent shows on the ship were conducted in the carrier’s hangar bay with much larger audiences (200-450). I can’t say enough how great these audiences were. They laughed at the jokes, participated a ton, and were as receptive as an audience can be.

After three incredible shows on board and two sleepless nights (planes taking off one deck above your bunk makes it tough to sleep), it was time to fly back to Bahrain. A sailor actually sent me a video of my flight taking off from the carrier!

My flight off of the aircraft carrier, launched by catapult.

Upon returning to Bahrain, I performed two more shows. One of them was for military families and was a huge success with the need to add chairs through the show! I was even joined onstage by XO Jimmy Harmon!

The trip was one of the most memorable tours I’ve ever completed and I owe so much to Navy Entertainment, MWR and my booking agent for putting it all together. I can’t thank them enough. But who I need to thank the most are these folks who are sacrificing and working hard everyday on our behalf. I appreciate their service and dedication.