The Redskins Cheerleaders visited military bases overseas to help support our troops. Cheerleader Brittany checked in from Kuwait.
Hey Everyone- or should I say Salam wa aleikum (peace be upon you),
So here we are in Kuwait! But it sure did take a lot for us to get here. Leaving DC was an adventure in itself. We were all so eager and excited for our journey to begin and yet nervous about what to expect when we finally got here. The plane ride was 12 hours long! Yes, 12 hours! Let's just say that although the accommodations were wonderful, there are only so many ways to sit comfortably in a 2x2 seat and only so many movies that you can watch more than twice. Nonetheless, our long trip across the Atlantic landed us here in Kuwait.
Now most of you, like myself, may think Kuwait, or the Middle East for that matter, and assume that everything is as you see on TV or in the movies: a blank deserted land with tents everywhere and nothing but sand and tan landscape covering the ground. Well, you are right about two things- #1 there is sand- and lots of it. The sand is EVERYWHERE for as far as the eye can see. But the city is beautiful. The buildings have such dramatic architecture, very old world. They truly look like something out of the Disney movie Alladin, but with slightly less color.
And there lies No. 2 of what you may be right about -- everything is a nice shade of beige. It is truly a land of camouflage. Everything blends in with everything else. It's actually quite serene and peaceful in a way. The Mosques are the most beautiful of all the buildings. Some of them are simply breathtaking to see. Aside from that the city of Kuwait is just like most major metropolitain cities in America. All the highways are paved, major buildings and offices, night clubs, restaurants, movie theaters...you name it they have it.
The other part that we learned very quickly is how conservative the people are here. Most men are wearing white robes with head scarfs and the women who are married are wearing black robes with full head scarfs with only their eyes showing. It was very important for us to show respect to the people of Kuwait and we followed dress code for those who would wear what we consider "normal" clothes, which was long sleeves and pants. Not the ideal attire for 106 degree weather, but when in Kuwait, do as the Kuwait people do.
For the two nights that were were here in Kuwait we stayed in the Raddisson Hotel. It was such a beautiful hotel. Again, set up just like any other back home. The hotel staff is wonderful and so willing to help us with anything that we may need. And...the food is amazing!!! It may have been that we had not had a true meal until last night, but this morning sure did solidify that the food is great! We finished up last night with a team practice to get ready for our first show. We even had a dance studio to practice in- what accommodations!
Today was really our first official day on tour! I have one word to sum it all up- AMAZING!!! For myself and 9 of the other girls here this is our first tour ever! Jamilla and Abby have showed us around and without them I know we would be lost.
Our first stop was at Arifjan Army Base at 0900 to meet with the Lt. Colonel Mark Crumpton to have our briefing for the day. What a great start to the day! All of the soldiers at the base were so welcoming but Lt. Col. Crumpton was by far the best! He was so personable and charismatic. We probably could have sat there all day and chatted about pretty much anything. We learned about his three girls and wonderful wife back home in Alabama- RollTide all the way baby! (That ones for you Lt. Col. Crumpton aka "Crump") we also learned that his favorite cereal is Captain Crunch and that he loves Texas Roadhouse. You hear that! So maybe send some free dinners his way (wink wink).
We talked about the military, too -- we almost forgot about that, seeing as how we were having so much fun in conversation about, well whatever we could think to talk about. We learned about the different military bases in Kuwait and there locations (top secret stuff). We also learned about Military uniforms and rank symbols. Me and Tecoya have been trying hard to memorize them all -- we have: Lt. Col., Sgt., Sgt. First Class, Staff Sgt., Specialist, Major, Commander, MB2, MB3 and Captain down pat. The rest? Get back to us at the end of the trip. There are so many and about a millions lines that once added to the same symbol means something totally different and then there are various colors of the same symbol that mean something different. Get my drift -- to know what we know now with only a day under our belt -- well we are pretty proud of that.
Lt. Col. Crumpton also presented us with certificates thanking us for our service to the military troops and awarded us each with a Challenge coin. These are awarded to soldiers when they have accomplished something their superior wants to immediately praise them for. It is a sincere and honorable form of gratitude from one soldier to another. We were all so honored to have been presented these coins for excellent entertainment.
We left Lt. Col. Crumpton's office to join other soldiers for lunch at the DFAC. For those of you who are not in the military that stands for Dining Facility. They sure do like to use acronyms and they use they for everything. It is like another language and they throw them out there so fast you can't hardly understand where you are or where you are going. At Arifjan Zone 1 DFAC, they have great food and great people. We were able to continue our fun with Lt. Col. Crumpton and meet some other soldiers as well. Having lunch with them and hearing their stories was so nice. Just to know that they felt they could share those moments with us meant the world to us and we sure hope it meant that to them too.
After lunch we headed over to the Hospital on base. We were able to meet and greet with the patients there as well as the staff nurses and physicians. I hope that we helped with some of their healing today. There we met a lot of people from the DC metro area. One girl we met there, her name was Jessica. She went to the same high school as me and graduated with my brother. We are pretty much neighbors back home. Thank you Jessica for your service and we all wish you a speedy recovery!
We also met the military morale dog Lance. What a treat for the soldiers to have a little huggable loving companion at their bedside to cheer them up. Not to mention he was the cutest Westie I have seen! Right before leaving I also met another person from back home, a nurse. He was from the Crofton area and knows a lot of the same people as me. We then headed over to the community center on base to do a meet and greet with the soldiers. We were floored to walk into a group of more than 100 service men and women all cheering and clapping for us. What a welcome! To see them light up at just the sight of us and then to have some of them tell us that we had made their day was unbelievable. At that moment I could not have imagined being anywhere else but right there.
There were also a lot of redskins fans, one of which I knew pretty well. Small world it is out there but I actually met a man by the name of Lee Moffett who went to the same high school as me and graduated with my best friend's husband and brother. It was great to see you Lee and thank you for your service and dedication! Let me tell you what a small, small world this is! The girls were just in awe of how many people there I knew or knew through friends. I was in shock too!
Then it was off to KNB (another acronym -- start studying you will hear a lot of them I told you!) Kuwait Naval Base. This is actually an American Naval Base inside of a Kuwait naval base. Our first stop here was the water! We had a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only ride on some of the navy and coast guard boats but also drive them! It was such a thrill. The boats sure do go fast and they ride so smooth on the water. It was beautiful out on the water, the wind and temperature made for great boating weather.
Jaqui and I were on one of the coast guard boats with three soldiers. Two from the coast guard, Wood and Ramierez and one from the Navy, Martinez. We definately had the best guys running our boat! We both got to drive, although Jaqui was a little nervous at first. But she took the wheel and soon became a pro at it! I couldn't wait to get my hands on the wheel. I love being out on the water and I felt right at home.
Funny little fact: Our crew's name was "Morning Wood" -- what a name, right? But it stands for when they work and the last name of the main guy on their crew. They thought it was funny, too -- a guess a littler humor goes a long way out here for them and nothing like making light of the situation. We all need a good laugh sometimes!
After our incredible boat rides we headed back over the the main park of KNB to get ready for out first show! It was so exciting that we were actually going to now perform what we have worked so hard on for the past few months to the people who deserve to see it the most- our troops! We had a great crowd and a loud one too! They all really enjoyed the show and kept telling us how entertained they were! We could not have been more happy about that! That's what we are there for. For them to forget for one moment about where they are and to sit back and enjoy some fun entertainment.
When we finished up the show with our God Bless the USA routine, I couldn't help but look out into the sea of soldiers in front of me and begin to shed a tear. Tears of happiness and joy that I could be a part of something like this for them and tears of sadness to know that this may be a small bit of home but for most of these men and women they have not seen their family and friends in months or even years. They have missed anniversaries, first birthdays, babies being born, graduations and just life back home.
But for that one moment they are happy, genuinely happy and we were each a part of that.
I know one thing, we truly have the best men and women serving our country! You are the most dedicated and honorable people I have ever met and I want you to know how blessed we are to be here for you. As excited as you are about having us here we are even more excited to be here for you! The time you give to serve our country is undeniably the most selfless act in the world. I am proud and honored to be an American and I am so glad that my first day of this tour was spent with each and everyone of you.
You have each touched my life in a way I will never forget. God Bless the USA!