February 16, 2009
New England Patriots Running Back Sammy Morris Visits Troops in Iraq
The soldiers wouldn't let Morris fire their weapons, but they at least let him pose like "Rambro."
Back row: Sammy Morris, Willie Roaf, Josh Wilson
Front row: Raiderettes Jovann Walker, Ariel Ogilvie, Meena Shams
New England Patriots Running Back Sammy Morris Visits the Troops in Iraq
Sammy Morris with a small group of NFL players and cheerleaders visited the troops and watched the Super Bowl XLIII with them.
Our group consists of Jody Pucello, the tour leader, Josh Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, retired offensive lineman Willie Roaf, and three Oakland Raiderettes: Ariel Ogilvie, Jovann Canada, and Meena Shams.
It is great to be part of such a trip with a group of guys/gals that are down to earth and fun to be around -- even though Willie is terrible at dominoes!
We arrived in Kuwait after a long flight, got our bags and headed to our base. We pretty much laid low at that point, resting up for our first day of meet-and-greets with the troops.
Our first day had us going to two bases to sign autographs, take pictures and just hang out with the men and women serving there. Just walking around here is enough to make one appreciate what we have in the U.S. as well as what the troops do to ensure that. My brother is in the Air Force and I've talked to him while on various deployments. I've spoken with troops stateside, but being here is a remarkable experience and one I will always cherish.
"A large part of the day was spent traveling along the dusty, barren, camel-ridden highways of Kuwait. It's kind of funny driving along these roads and seeing absolutely nothing but the sandiest sand (if that even means anything) and then, out of nowhere, you see a Burger King! Then for another stretch of several quizillion dusty miles, you see not one single thing, then all of a sudden there's a strip mall adjacent to a large condo complex, and some guy selling beaded necklaces. Very different from what I'm used to (and by the way, "quizillion" is actually an ancient term which, in English, literally translates to "Damn, that's a lot of dirt!")
What I really found interesting was that among all this dirt, you would occassionally see these tents scattered around or sometimes in clusters varying in size and color. When we asked what they were, our security escort said they were basically families choosing to live in the desert to sort of "get back to their roots." I'm unsure of how long each family does so, but I found it amazing that people chose to bring their families out into basically nothing. "
The meet-and-greets put on by the people from Pro Sports MVP are a fun and relaxed way to meet the troops. Although I'm quite sure they enjoy meeting, greeting and taking pictures with the cheerleaders more than Willie Roaf, Josh Wilson and myself, I still get a kick out of it when the troops ask to take pictures with me holding their guns! I'm always like, "Man, I was hoping you would ask! Can I shoot a couple rounds too?!" ... negative. Oh well, once again I took the opportunity to play tough and actually somehow managed to take a Rambo-type picture, minus the bandana, while holding two guns at the same time! I call it 'Rambro'-ridiculous. I know, but it was just too tempting and easy! To give you an idea of how small the world is, while visiting the soldiers at "The Rock", I actually met not one but two people who knew my dad back in Texas.
The drive back to our base was probably highlighted by our attempts to feed the camels while driving by. It basically turned into Josh throwing fruit at the camels while they stared at us like "stupid Americans."
We were also invited to a naval base and were allowed to not only take a boat ride, but drive one as well!
Getting to drive it was an experience in itself. The water was a bit choppy, so probably not the ideal learning situation, but going about 35 m.p.h. in these boats feels a lot faster than doing 35 in a car. I imagine driving on a still surface has something to do with that as well!
As our first day came to a close, I realized a few similarities in how the troops operate as a team and the way I do as an athlete. We both rely on others to ensure success and we both practice in anticipation of the "real thing."
"On a personal level, coming here is an example of the things I try to teach my kids. Gratitude, humbleness, etc., are all things I've experienced in my short time here."
I got to sit and chat with a soldier who happened to be a life-long Patriots fan, and he explained how he would watch our games before departing on a mission and how watching us play would brighten his day. That's just one of the humbling conversations I've had, where a soldier tells me that what I do helps him when he willfully goes into harm's way! Unbelievable."
Aside from an armed soldier at the table, this picture could have been taken anywhere. Who knew they had Subway shops in Kuwait?
Close-up view of an Apache helicopter
Gunner's view from a Blackhawk chopper.
Blackhawk in flight.
Blackhawks on the tarmac.
This trip marked the first time Sammy had ever seen a camel in person, so he documented the experience with a photo.
General Raymond Odierno, the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
Apache pilot Mr. Freeze gives Sammy a firsthand look at the helicopter's cockpit.
General Jeffery Hammond briefed Sammy on some of the locations of heavy combat n Iraq.
Wild Thing's comment......
It is always interesting to me when someone goes to visit our troops and what they say about it. What stands out to them and it also tells a lot about the person that they will take home in their hearts forever.
....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.
3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
Posted by Wild Thing at February 16, 2009 04:48 AM
Sammy morris seems like a decent and intelligent fellow. Obviously not one of the flashy players. It is neat to read about visiting the troops from the celebrities view point. As always, the troops impressed the stars. I like Sammy's view on gratitude and humbleness as traits to teach his kids. Too bad Sammy couldn't fire a few bursts while he was there.
Posted by: TomR at February 16, 2009 12:09 PM
Tom, I think so too, he seems to have his feet on the ground. It is always interesting to read what each person has for their favorite or outstanding memory of their visit.
Posted by: Wild Thing at February 16, 2009 07:31 PM