Several years ago I got a phone call from my agent. He asked me if I had any interest in performing some shows for the military. My heart rate sped up as I answered, “Yes! I’ve wanted to share my magic with the men and women of the United States military for years.”

After chatting with him for a few minutes about what those shows would look like, I hung up the phone, not sure if anything would come of our conversation.

You see, my interest in performing these types of shows came to me from a very honest, organic place. Growing up as a child, into my teenage years, through my college years, and then into adulthood, my Grandfather on my Mom’s side was someone I had a very special bond with.

As I look back, I think my Grandfather, who I called Papa, or sometimes - Pop, had a very special bond with a lot of people. He was a unique, kind, special person who made other people feel special. He was funny, he was smart, and he was a retired Colonel and pilot in the United States Air Force.

When I fell in love with magic at age sixteen, I would put on little shows for my family, my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents anytime we visited them. My Pop would sit back in his La-Z-Boy chair and watch and smile as I performed card tricks and did my best to amaze everyone.

As I got older I remember asking him about his adventures traveling, flying, and living around the world. The places that he went and the things that he did always seemed glamorous to me.

The stories were so fascinating - they almost seemed bigger than life. But when you consider that he faithfully served his country during times of war and he put himself at risk more times than I could ever know, I guess those stories were bigger than life - they were stories of life and death.

When I graduated from high school I was mere inches away from going into the military myself. I thought hard about it. I visited recruitment centers multiple times and asked lots of questions. I VERY strongly considered joining. But alas, I ended up deciding to go to college to study my love of acting, theater, and magic instead.

When that fateful phone call from my agent came decades later, I desperately wanted something to come of it. The problem is that you just never know what doors are going to open and which ones simply won’t budge.

COL Roy M. Chapman - my Grandfather.

COL Roy M. Chapman - my Grandfather.

Imagine my surprise when, approximately a week later, I found out that one of the groups that works with entertainers to send them to entertain the men, women, and families of the Armed Forces that are stationed at military bases outside of the USA wanted to book me for a tour.

I can’t type words that truly share how appreciative, grateful, and thankful I am for that opportunity and for every opportunity since. That first tour opened other doors that have given me the privilege of sharing my magic for audiences on nearly a hundred military bases all around the United States and the world.

I’ve had the incredible chance to give back, in my own way, by making men, women, and children laugh, smile, be inspired, and be amazed at the blessings and gifts that I have been bestowed with. I’ve been able to honor the memory of my grandfather, Colonel Roy M. Chapman.

Every tour and every base that I have performed on has felt like I was coming home to share something special with my people. Performing these shows has been one of the best things that has happened in my life.

If you are reading this and you are or were in the military - thank you. You have my utmost respect and gratitude for the job that you do or that you did. If you are a spouse, child, or family member of someone who is serving, or has served - thank you. I’ve learned that you very much served, too.

Here are a few photos from the current tour that I am on serving these fine folks.

-JM

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