Tracy Smith has been a Beatles fan for a long time. He was thrilled to not only attend the Ringo Starr concert on Friday at Harrah’s Casino’s Stir Concert Cove, but he and his wife, Freda, were able to watch the former member of the fab four and his latest stage incarnation, Ringo and His All Starr Band, for free — courtesy of a partnership between a local realtor and an organization that helps veterans buy and sell homes.
“They sounded great,” Smith said of the performers, who included not only Starr, the famed Beatles drummer, but also other musicians from well-known groups such as Santana and Toto. “Those guys are older than me, and they still sounded awesome. It was a great show.”
Smith, who spent 24 years in the military between his time in the Air National Guard and then the Air Force, was just one of the veterans selected to attend the concert.
Andrew Woods, a realtor with Heartland Properties teamed up with Veterans United Home Loans of Bellevue to provide dozens of tickets to metro area veterans, some of whom are retired, with others still on active duty in the U.S. military.
Woods said he thought it would be a way to give back to veterans he has met during his real estate career. He bought 50 tickets and chose 10 veterans during a raffle-style drawing to give two tickets apiece to, that way they could each bring a friend or spouse, Woods said. Another 25 were given to veterans by Veterans United Home Loans, which co-sponsored the event.
“The idea is in this business, you want to stay in touch with clients,” Woods said. “I’ve developed a list of military clients. A lot of people came from different bases across the country to work here at Offutt (Air Force Base). I thought it would be a fun way to show them some of what the metro area has to offer.”
Jesse Shea was also at the concert. A Council Bluffs resident and 17-year Army veteran with two tours in Afghanistan, Shea credits Woods for a good time at the concert, as well as his assistance in real estate.
“(Woods) has helped me buy and sell two houses,” Shea, a Pottawattamie County VA commissioner said. “They were both VA loans. I wanted to go and meet some of the other people (Woods) has helped out. It’s nice to see people in the community helping out veterans, and it was a good experience.”
Tom Wagner was also selected to go to the show. He said he was surprised at how well the band navigated the diversity of songs they played, many of which Wagner, an Air Force vet, grew up to.
“I didn’t understand what the ‘All-Star band’ really was,” Wagner said. “But they did a great job of recreating songs I have heard throughout my life, especially the Santana and Men at Work songs. They were tight, they played for about two hours and it was very enjoyable.”
Woods said he plans to do something similar for veterans again in the future.
“It was perfect weather, a great show and I think everyone had a good time,” Woods added.