ESPN analysts and former college football head coaches Bob Davie and Urban Meyer, along with former Pro Bowl defensive end and current sports agent Trace Armstrong, recently traveled to the Middle East as they set out on their first USO Tour.
Earlier this month, the college football experts spent several days visiting troops stationed at Camp Arifjan and Camp Virginia in Kuwait, and those serving under the 386th Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia.
Davie and Meyer spent five seasons together at the University of Notre Dame from 1996-2000.
The former head coach at Notre Dame, Davie has been a college football analyst with ESPN since 2002.
Meyer, the former University of Florida head coach, enters his first full college football season with the network.
As part of their USO tour, the three men talked football, signed autographs and posed for photos with troops, while listening to their heroic stories and about their families back home in the States.
The men experienced the highs and lows that the soldiers encounter everyday being so far away from home.
The bases reached temperatures of 120 degrees.
The trio saw how each military base varied.
Some bases were temporary, so that they could be packed up and moved at any moment. Other bases were more permanent.
They came across soldiers who had been in Kuwait for months, had just arrived for their first tour of duty or returning for their second or third deployment.
Davie remarked at how positive his experience was visiting with the troops, and that the soldiers were able to maintain such a positive perspective.
Davie said: “The great thing about the trip was there are so many things going on in the U.S. right now — the debt ceiling, the economy shifts, the NFL labor dispute finally being resolved to the start of the college football season right around the corner. It was great to visit and let the men and women know that no matter what is going on back home that they have not been forgotten, and we want to continue to show our support and to know they are on our minds.”
Davie felt that each soldier had a story to tell: parents away from their spouses and children, young soldiers who are experiencing being away from home for the first time or others who left their jobs behind to serve their country.
“It is comforting to know the soldiers are able to connect with their families back home using Skype or email anytime they would like,” said Davie.
“But the reality is they are away from home and missing important milestones. The thing that was so impressive was the attitude of the all of the soldiers, and their commitment to being there.”
The USO continuously lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families through morale-boosting programs, services and engaging entertainment and by helping families stay connected.
Davie, Meyer and Armstrong saw how this works when they were able to watch a father read a book to his child back home on Skype at the USO Center in Kuwait.
The USO is a non-profit organization and depends on the individual support of donors, volunteers and corporate sponsors to provide services like these to our service heroes overseas and stateside.
“The USO has been delivering life-changing experiences to troops and their families for more than 70 years,” said John Pray, USO Senior Vice President for Entertainment/Programs.
“Whether giving troops an opportunity to meet Bob Davie, talk football with Trace Armstrong or simply share what they do with Urban Meyer, USO entertainment tours are designed to create memories that last a lifetime — for both the celebrity and the service member.
“Our partnership with celebrity volunteers is one of the many ways the USO is able to represent all Americans by saying ‘thank you’ and delivering a touch of home to those that are doing so much to protect the freedoms we enjoy daily.”