The Navy may have plans for the fallen "American Idol" contestant, according to the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON -- Now that “American Idol” voters have kicked U.S. Navy sailor Phil Stacey off the singing competition, is the Pentagon considering sending him to Iraq?
Navy and Pentagon officials weren't saying on Thursday what is next for Stacey, an active duty petty officer 3rd class and a vocalist with the Navy Band Southeast in Jacksonville, Fla. During the competition, Stacey was temporarily assigned to the Los Angeles recruiting district.
Military officials were clearly pleased they had a certifiable star on active duty. Navy spokesmen said the service is discussing with Stacey his next assignment and whether he will join the other finalists on their tour this summer.
The top “Idol” finishers are generally required to tour after the television show is finished. Stacey could be allowed to participate in the tour as part of a recruiting assignment -- the Navy could force him to use personal leave or they could release him from his military obligation.
There is precedent for the Navy releasing sailors from active duty obligations. David Robinson, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was allowed to enter the reserves in order to play pro basketball with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. Robinson, known as “The Admiral” despite not reaching that rank, helped lead the team to two world championships.
But the Navy may have more of an interest in hanging on to Stacey.
The New Republic magazine reported last month that the USO has struggled this year to recruit celebrities for entertaining its troops in Iraq. Although the USO has blamed transportation difficulties for a declining number of tours, the magazine suggested that it may be tied to the increasing unpopularity of the war.
Although the USO may have few stars willing to go to Iraq, with Stacey, the military has a singing star they can order to perform anywhere.
Bill Dougherty, a Navy spokesman in Jacksonville, said that the Navy Band Southeast does not typically deploy overseas. Instead, according to Dougherty, the band mainly plays in high schools to help with military recruiting. Stacey is the lead singer of Pride, the Navy's rock band.
But Stacey could be reassigned or asked to volunteer for a musical tour in Iraq, Afghanistan or the two naval carrier groups stationed in the Persian Gulf.
For its part, the Navy seems reluctant to let go of their new star.
“We view this as something tremendously valuable for the Navy in terms of public affairs and recruiting,” said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman. “He was showing off skills he developed in the Navy.”