I'm here with Charo, Mila, and Kristie at Camp Arifjan, along with four NFL alumni - Darren Woodson, Kawika Mitchell, and two Redskins greats (Chris Draft and '82 NFL MVP, Mark Mosely). We've just wrapped up day three of our thirteen day, four country, Middle Eastern adventure, and to put it simply, we're having a blast! This is my first military appreciation tour, and though my WRC sisters have shared many stories and fond memories from their experiences overseas, I didn't quite know what to expect coming into this trip. Not surprisingly, what started out as a mixture of excitement and nerves sitting at the Dulles terminal last Saturday, quickly turned into the most humbling and rewarding experience I could imagine.
Our first reaction upon landing on Kuwaiti soil?...wow, it's HOT here! The temperature averages 115 degrees Fahrenheit around this time of year, though unlike the summertime humidity in DC, it's a dry desert heat. Along with the heat, the feeling of being halfway around the world finally hit me during our drive to the base, as camel herds were spotted about as frequently as you'll find a Starbucks in DC. When we arrived at our new home-away-from- home on base, we were immediately welcomed and engulfed in the strong sense of community among the troops.
In the spirit of the armed forces, our "mission" for this trip is to show support and gratitude for the work and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, while hopefully bringing them a little piece of home. Our time here was spent visiting several military bases (Camp Buehring, LSA, Patriot, and our "home base," Arifjan) to meet as many people as possible, experience their daily lives, and provide some entertainment with the WRC signature variety show - complete with some Q&A and healthy competition (one soldier completed 102 push-ups in two minutes!) hosted by our football friends.
We performed four shows across our time here, and I really felt the impact of our visit after meeting with a Navy Commander at Camp Patriot. He shared with us that the NFL presence on base was not only a morale booster, but also an important reminder to his men and women of why they're there. Football is just a sport, and as part of our everyday American lives it can easily be taken for granted; however, it's important to take time to remember that this sport, that unifies communities and helps boost our economy, is also a representation of the freedom we enjoy as Americans because of the work and sacrifice of our military.
Similarly, I don't think I can show enough appreciation for the amazing experiences we were provided across our time in Kuwait. From the soldiers at Camp Buehring suiting us up (rubber guns and all!) to experience a rollover simulation, jumping aboard the LSV 5 at Camp Patriot (thanks for letting us honk the horn!), and testing our skills to operate the robots used to clear bombs and save lives in battle (who knew some use XBox controllers?), we've made memories that will last a lifetime. Before signing off, I'd feel remiss without giving a huge shout out to Sergeant Taylor for managing to somehow always being in the right place at the right time and going above and beyond to help us out...and of course to Gary for the entertaining car rides, and to Ed for being our guide throughout the weekend.
I can't wait to see what our next stop will have in store for us, and we'll make sure we keep you posted!