June 8, 2009— -- Television host Stephen Colbert did not let his rare medical condition -- "cowardice," as he called it -- stop him from suiting up and landing in Baghdad to entertain American troops in Iraq this week as his show, the "Colbert Report," broadcasts from Camp Victory.
To prepare for the trip, Colbert went through some brief basic training exercises that consisted of his running around armed and in full camouflage, playing paper-rock-scissors with other members of his squad to avoid the more dangerous tasks.
"I went through basic training," Colbert told "Good Morning America" before he left. "I would recommend, if you're going to do the crawl through the sand pit under barbed wire, wear underwear. I thought going commando ... meant you go commando."
Colbert also took to the wild-blue yonder in one of the world-famous Thunderbird fighter planes and was proud to say he did not pass out, although he begged officials not to let him do it again.
"This is when I was screaming like a giddy little girl," he said.
But he didn't do it all for the pure terror. The "Colbert Report" will be broadcasting from Iraq in part to remind Americans what the troops are doing there.
"[There are] still 130,000 men and women over there, and we just don't talk about them anymore," he said. "We're so concerned with our pocketbooks and our 401(k)s that we consider that over. But not much has changed for them. Military families' houses default on their mortgages at four times the national rate. They're over there serving, and there's nothing they can do back here to help.
"I think it's important for us not to forget that they're still going through the same things they went [through] before, whether or not we're still talking about them. ... The war is not over," he said.
So, while the troops serve abroad, Colbert has joined forces with DonorsChoose.org to help out at home by supporting donations to classroom projects for teachers and schools that serve military children.
"They want to teach 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' but their school can't afford 25 new books for their students," Colbert said. "What would make the troops feel more supported than us doing something absolutely concrete."
Colbert Braves the Heat for a Good Cause
To help DonorsChoose.org, Colbert said he wants to foster competition among the different branches of the military and, echoing the classic recruiting slogan, said, "If you are a member or former member of one of these branches, I want you to donate money to DonorsChoose.org.
"I wanted to represent as many branches of the services as possible," Colbert joked. "I've got the Army, obviously, for basic training, the Air Force for flying and I'm also going to be singing with the Village People for the Navy."
Colbert said he was bringing 15,000 "pounds of jokes" with him to Iraq -- all about how hot it is and "the rest of it is just acknowledgement that I'm scared."
One day into his trip, Colbert took his camouflage suit look to the next level when he allowed Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, to shave his head.
While he's not Jessica Simpson, Colbert said he would definitely wear short-shorts for the troops.
"I'm going to wear some Daisy Dukes and I've been working on my gams," he said. "I'm willing to shave my legs just to make them happy. All I hope is to make them laugh."