The day was finally here that we had been anticipating for weeks! Our once in a lifetime experience to travel overseas to visit the US Military was about to begin. After a long, 14-hour flight we arrived in the beautiful city of Doha, Qatar. Courtney and I set off to Camp As Sayliyah while the other cheerleaders were in route to Al Udeid Airbase in order to cover as many bases as possible and see as many troops as we could. On day one, Courtney and I were able to tour around the base to visit each unit and learn about what they do. We had so much fun on our first stop visiting the K-9 unit. We were able to try on the “bite suit” and experience the strength and intelligence of a K-9 dog named Bentley. After a long day of visiting the troops, we had enough down time to be able to go out and experience the unique Qatari culture in the city of Doha. The next day, the rest of the cheerleaders met up with us for our first performance of the tour. It was a blast getting to perform on a huge stage with a gigantic American flag background! After the show, we met so many amazing men and women and took pictures that will leave us with memories to last a lifetime. At 2:30 am, we finally went to bed with anticipation to head to our next destination in UAE.
After arriving in Qatar on day one, I immediately felt safe when the troops approached us – and that’s when it all began! Our next destination was to Al Udeid Air Base where I met an officer who without any hesitation offered me his platoon badge. This was one of my most profound memories that will surely resonate with me forever and it is something I will always cherish. Afterward, we went to the K-9 unit where we met two gorgeous German Shepherds–– Charlie and Mink. After experiencing what Mink was capable of with my protective arm sleeve, I certainly feel bad for anyone who gets on either of their bad sides. That night, we had our first signing where I was able to speak with many heroic people about their various experiences fighting for our country. While I have always had a deep appreciation for what our troops do every day, after hearing about their encounters it certainly helped me further realize what they sacrifice day in and day out. By the time I rested my eyes I was waking up again ready for our next adventure! To be honest, there are no words to describe what I had the opportunity to experience. I am so incredibly grateful and fortunate to be able to have such fond memories at such a young age and I owe it completely to being a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader.
Being in the Middle East was absolutely amazing and unlike anything I had ever experienced, especially Abu Dhabi! When we arrived at the base we were all so excited and anxious to meet everyone. We toured the base and learned so much while we were there. It really amazed me on how intelligent the men and women that serve our country are! We saw their air crafts and were explained what each one was capable of. We also checked out the explosive unit where I got to try on their protective body suit. That was pretty cool! Every meal, we sat and ate with the troops and were able to talk to them about their families and some of their favorite things back home. This was always so special to me because I would sit and listen and was always so amazed with their stories. At the end of our stay we performed for the troops, signed autographs and took pictures. Seeing everyone so happy really brought me a smile from ear to ear. Going on tour has been the coolest thing I have ever done! I’m so thankful for the men and women who fight for my freedom!
Our third stop was Kuwait! We went to two bases, Ali Al Salem Air Base aka “The Rock” and Al Jaber Air Base. Driving to Ali Al Salem took about 45 minutes. We started off at the K-9 unit– my favorite stop– and were able to try on the full bite suit. They had one of their K-9 dogs do a demonstration on me and let me tell you, these dogs are so strong and know so much more than you could even imagine! After our exciting K-9 visit we were able to meet up with some of the troops who had the day off. We got to know so much about them, played ping pong, and had corn hole competitions! The fun didn’t stop, we had our third performance on base and met the troops after. We gave and received coins as a sign of how much we appreciate them and all they sacrifice for our freedom. As I continued to meet troops, I realized this was the best experience I’d ever had.
The next day we drove to Al Jaber Air Base. We started off by meeting the Commander early that morning. It was such a memorable beginning of the day! He gave us a coin and certificate of appreciation that meant so much to me. We then went to the EOD unit, where we tried on 87-pound bomb suits, and then witnessed a troop who was re-enlisting for another four years after serving 21 years in the Air Force. After the EOD unit visit we had our fourth performance, and it had to have been the best one yet! The troops were so loud and excited to see us, which made our performance such a blast! We then went back to our hotel to get some rest before our last stop– Afghanistan!
Walking out of the C-130 in Bagram, Afghanistan, I was completely in awe of how beautiful our surroundings were. The snow-capped mountains all around us were a perfect sight to see. Once landing in Bagram, we immediately loaded onto a Black Hawk and flew to Kabul at NATO RS. We were fortunate enough to eat in the D-FAC for every meal and sit with some of the most courageous hearts I’ll ever meet, and hear their stories. While in Kabul we traveled near FOBS where we put on performances and met some of our brave men and women including a four-star General, which was an honor.
By putting on performances we allow them a chance to escape their everyday routine, even if for just a moment. Watching them having fun, laughing and smiling truly warmed my heart. It is a privilege to stand up and shake their hand with genuine gratitude for all they sacrifice. Bringing a piece of home and reminding our heroes that they are appreciated is our number one priority. For all you do, we thank you!
As we threw on our kits and departed on our last Blackhawk ride to Bagram, it finally hit me that we were nearing the final leg of our Military tour. Upon arrival, we went straight to the D-FAC for chow, something I always looked forward to. The conversations I had with our fellow military men and woman we surely something I’ll never forget. During the rest of our stay at Bagram Air Base we were able to go on more unforgettable unit visits. One in particular, was when we got to see the F-16 Fighter Jets. Not only were we able to sit inside an F-16, but we were also able to watch a few take off. It was so exhilarating! Aside from the many unit visits, what made Bagram so special for me and the rest of the cheerleaders was being able to watch Super Bowl 50 with our troops. I cannot express to you the feeling that ran through me watching our National Anthem being sung and seeing the screen switch to the live shot of our troops, at the very base I was on. It was a Super Bowl I will forever hold near to my heart. The two weeks that I had been overseas, every service member I had met was so grateful for our visiting them and bringing a bit of home they’d been missing. But what I don’t think they realized was every service member I had met, changed my life. I don’t think I will ever be blessed with a greater experience in my life. The appreciation I have for our troops overseas and the sacrifices they make for our freedom is hard to put into words. I am so proud to be an American!