A Different Kind of Touchdown
March 5, 2013 -
AGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (March 4, 2013) — There are arguably tens of millions of football fans around the globe, and it is safe to assume that a great deal are fans of Super Bowl champion and current Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning. So when Manning touched down on Bagram Airfield, March 1, the service members assigned there were ecstatic.
In tow with Manning, as part of a USO tour, were a few sports celebrities to help entertain the troops. Major League Baseball hall of famer Curt Schilling delighted the crowd with inspiring words, along with National Football League’s Austin Collie and Vincent Jackson. “A lot of my family members served in the military, and this is an incredible honor for me to come here today and say thank you to all the men and women putting their lives on the line for all of us back home,” said Schilling
The host of the USO show, which was held in a modified tent, was Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had the honor of introducing two members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Both Cassie Trammell and Jackie Bob entertained the crowd with Cowboy’s trivia and a dance routine.
Peyton Manning thrilled those in attendance by throwing a few passes into the crowd. Austin Collie, a wide receiver with the Indianapolis Colts, and Vincent Jackson, a wide receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, assisted Manning on stage. “It’s truly inspiring to see all of the pride and hard work these men and women display every day here, and it makes me grateful to be an American,” said Manning.
The musical portion of the tour comprised of Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo, of American Idol fame. The couple, incidentally who are engaged to one another, met on Idol’s season 11 and have been touring with USO for the past two years. “To be able to come here and perform for the troops is first and foremost an honor,” said DeGarmo. “It’s nice to be able to bring a small piece of home here and hopefully help put their troubles behind for just a moment.”"Getting to meet and talk to the Soldiers about their daily duties is quite the blessing for me. I really love what they all do for us back home,” said Manning
The entertainment concluded with a myriad of adoring service members obtaining autographs from their favorite sports celebrities. Whether it was Peyton Manning, or the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, it was obvious the crowd was walking a bit lighter when the tour rolled out to the next Afghanistan base.