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KISS rocker Gene Simmons visits Pentagon on a different mission

Gene Simmons fights back tears talking about how much his late mother loved America

Gene Simmons of the group KISS visited the Pentagon to promote military service on May 16, 2019 where he talked about his mother, who recently died at the age of 93. She was 14 when she was put in a Nazi concentration camp.
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Gene Simmons of the group KISS visited the Pentagon to promote military service on May 16, 2019 where he talked about his mother, who recently died at the age of 93. She was 14 when she was put in a Nazi concentration camp.

KISS lead singer Gene Simmons visited the Pentagon Thursday for a very different mission from entertaining fans since the 1970s in a band famous for wild pyrotechnic displays on stage.

Instead, Simmons spoke emotionally about what the country means to him.

“I’m a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany. My mother was 14 when she was in the camps,” he said. She died recently at the age of 93.

Simmons was promoting military service as part of the Pentagon’s public relations push #Knowyourmil, which seeks to expand public knowledge of the Defense Department’s mission and potential military career paths. It is a top priority as the number of people eligible to serve continues to fall, due to weight, fitness, behavioral or other issues.

“Most of America doesn’t think of it (military service) until something bad happens,” Simmons said.

He took time to fist-bump and take photos with a long line of service members and defense personnel eager to meet him.

The visit brought a crowd of defense personnel to the Pentagon briefing room, where briefings have become sparse and defense officials now rarely go on camera to address reporter questions.

Tara Copp is the national military and veterans affairs correspondent for McClatchy. She has reported extensively through the Middle East, Asia and Europe to cover defense policy and its impact on the lives of service members. She was previously the Pentagon bureau chief for Military Times and a senior defense analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is the author of the award-winning book “The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story.”
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