Theodore's World: What Do Vikings and Afghanistan Have In Common?

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May 22, 2008

What Do Vikings and Afghanistan Have In Common?

Col. Jon Sutterfield, 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group commander, shows his Viking pride during the Viking cheerleaders' tour at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 19. Sutterfield is a St. Cloud, Minn., native and deployed to BAF from Langley Air Force Base, Va. (U.S. Army photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Sarah and Bailey, two of five Minnesota Viking cheerleaders who toured and performed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 19, display their Army t-shirts as they share words of encouragement to a standing-room-only crowd of servicemembers. In addition to performing cheer and dance routines, the cheerleaders challenged service members to a pushup contest, a "touchdown dance" contest and a game of "Cheerleader Says," modelled after the classic children's game "Simon Says." (U.S. Army photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Minnesota Viking cheerleader Bailey performs a dance routine during the Viking cheerleaders' tour at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 19. Bailey and four other cheerleaders visited BAF with a promise to give their all and to help pump up the spirits of deployed service members. (U.S. Army photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Sergeant 1st Class Timothy Winger, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Billy Grant and Peyton, a Minnesota Viking cheerleader gather on stage during the Viking cheerleaders' tour at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 19. The Soldier and Sailor tied for first place in a game of "Cheerleader Says," modelled after the classic children's game "Simon Says." (U.S. Army photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Jessie, Sarah, Amanda, Peyton and Bailey perform a dance routine

Cpl. Murray Kinnell, New Zealand Army, holds up "#1" as Minnesota Viking cheerleaders Amanda and Sarah cheer him on. Kinnell competed, and was unanimously voted best, in a "touchdown dance" competition during the Viking cheerleaders' tour at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 19. (U.S. Army photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace


Historically speaking, what do Vikings and Afghanistan have in common?

Not much … but all that changed today, when five weapon-bearing Vikings landed their ‘long ship’ here.

They did not bear the 8th century axes and swords that one would imagine. Instead, they clutched pom-poms, microphones and enough spirit to pump up the standing-room-only crowd of service members who came to bare witness.

The event started with songs, dancing and cheers; efforts to vitalize the troops spirits, said Viking cheerleader Ms. Payton.

“We are all very glad to be here and we are going to put on a great show,” said Payton, as she warmed up prior to the event. “This is our last show in Afghanistan and we want to make this a night the troops will remember.”

With a promise to give the night their all, the cheerleaders went backstage and the event coordinators began letting in the men and women who were anxiously waiting outside.

First through the door was Senior Airman Oscar Bruck, 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron phase crew chief.

“I’ve been waiting here since 6:20 (p.m.),” said Bruck, a Marlett, Mich., native deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheith, England.

The event did not start until 8 p.m., but waiting nearly two hours didn’t bother Bruck, who said, “I wanted a front-row seat to make sure I got good photos.”

Good photos were not all Bruck received. He also got picked to come onstage and meet the Minnesota Viking cheerleaders and challenge 19 other service members to a push-up contest.

Bruck did not win the contest as his skills were no match for rival Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Gilbert Corpuz, who knocked out 103 regulation push-ups in a minute. For his victory, Corpuz was rewarded with a Vikings calendar, autographed by all the cheerleaders.

After the pushup contest was finished, the cheerleaders performed another routine, then they picked 10 service members to join them on stage for a game of ‘Cheerleader Says,’ modelled after the classic children’s game Simon Says.

Once again, the stage was speckled with an array of U.S. uniforms. As a colorful addition, one Polish soldier also joined the ranks.

The Polish and two U.S. Soldiers were eliminated in the first round. Two Airmen and two more Soldiers fell in the second round.

Four rounds later, a tie was called as Sergeant 1st Class Timothy Winger, 70th Engineer Company, and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Billy Grant refused to be outsmarted.

A fair mix of rivalry and camaraderie added to the evening’s excitement, said one Coalition NCO.
“I like American Football – it is tough, yet fun. This is like the feeling of the people here – keyed up and still having fun,” said Sgt. Domera Phelippon, French Army.

Though football is not his favorite sport, Phelippon does like to watch it, he said.

“I know the Minnesota Vikings because I saw them on T.V.,” explained Phelippon. “Still, I didn’t imagine the cheerleaders would be this pretty. I am glad I came.”

What Phelippon may or may not have known was that the cheerleaders were equally as pleased to meet him and the other men and women in attendance.

“My favorite part of the tour is meeting so many people from so many places and hearing all their different stories,” said Payton, whose brother currently serves as a hull technician aboard the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Other cheerleaders also had military ties.

One fellow cheerleader, Amanda, said her father retired from the Air Force.

The team’s captain, Sarah, said she did not have immediate family in the military but she has spent a great deal of time with service members lately.

Sarah volunteered for a similar tour in Iraq in February, during the Super Sunday Tour. She feels blessed to have the opportunity to travel to military bases through the Vikings, she said.

With the devotion the cheerleaders expressed for the attending service members, it was no wonder a line of men and women stretched around the Morale, Welfare and Recreation clamshell after the performance was completed and the cheerleaders volunteered to stick around, take one-on-one photos and sign autographs.

One Soldier was fortunate to be in front of the line, which only compounded the morale boost he got from the event, he said.
“I had a blast here,” explained Pfc. Ryan Clement, a route-clearance Soldier and Earlham, Iowa native. “Not only did I get to see a fine performance, I got to come up on stage and embarrass myself in the ‘Cheerleader Says’ competition.”

Clement only made it to the third round, but that did not abate his mood at all.

“I’ve been out at the (forward operating bases) and on patrols outside the wire since I came here,” said Clement. “To see this event and the energy these ladies put in on our behalf, helps out a lot – it really boosts our morale.”

After their visit to BAF, their final visit on the tour, the Vikings boarded their ‘long ship’ and again set sail – destined for home, and leaving memories and a boost of morale for those left behind.

Posted by Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 03:45 AM


"...Lief Erickson WHO?" - Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders 2008. Just kidding and those Viking gals are patriots for sure!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at May 22, 2008 04:58 AM

Nice. I am so happy when I see these stories of love and devotion to entertaining our kids. They really deserve it.

Posted by: Lynn at May 22, 2008 08:16 AM

Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders. Life is good.

Posted by: Les at May 22, 2008 10:01 AM

Thank You Viking cheerleaders so much for supporting out troops. You know these servicemen and women had a ball.

Are these events ever reported on stateside tv? I mostly quit watching the broadcast channels so I dont really know. I bet these morale boosting trips by sports and entertainment figures are considered non news worthy.

Posted by: TomR at May 22, 2008 11:02 AM

Awesome, thank you Vikings and the USO. No, I'm not going to re-up, too old, just envious.

Posted by: Jack at May 22, 2008 01:27 PM

Darth, giggle.....well um the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are good too. heh heh

Thanks Darth.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 11:33 PM

Lynn me too, as I read the write up about it I was laughing thinking how much fun they had with the Cheerleader Says game. haha

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 11:36 PM

Les, yes I am so happy for our troops.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 11:40 PM

Tom, I watch a lot of news and I didn't see anything on any of the channels about this. Nothing. So sad they just can't get out of the way of their agenda against our troops to even tell these kind of stories.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 11:43 PM

Jack, haha you are young at heart and that is what counts.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 22, 2008 11:45 PM

I'll be the Quarterback and Sarah can be the Center...and the snap will be executed on Hut
17... "Ready...Set... Hut 1, Hut 2, ... Hut 16... TIME OUT!" Let's replay the down?

Posted by: drstrangeloveb52isok at May 23, 2008 05:18 AM