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Posted at 6:09 PM ET, 12/18/2010

USO Trip Day 2: Good morning, Kuwait!

By LaVar Arrington

I just finished up today around 8 p.m. here in Kuwait, the first full day of our USO Tour. We went to two different camps today -- one Army Hoo Ah! and one at a Naval base. We had an awesome time, had a chance to sit down with top-ranking commanders and generals to share stories and learn lots of interesting things about why the Armed Forces are here and details about the country we are in.

It's funny how you can be worlds away from home but how things so simple as a play that was made or a college that you attended can make the distance feel like nothing at all.The head commander of operations was an Alabama man, and coach Gene Stallings is in attendance. He's a legendary Alabama coach. That commander was tickled to death to be able to share so many stories about growing up and choosing Bama or Auburn. Well, he loves Alabama and it showed.

After we finished getting briefed, we had lunch in the cafeteria with the soldiers on base. We talked about everyday life and had so many laughs. I can not remember laughing so hard so much. Andre Reid should have his own television show. He is hysterically funny.

After lunch we went over to a training facility on base and set up to meet, greet, sign autographs and take pictures. In all we were there for over two hours, just having a blast with the troops.

There were tons of people from tons of different places and they came in all kinds of different sizes and shapes. I really enjoyed the humility of these soldiers.They were just amazingly pleasant and high in spirits.

We wrapped up there went to the naval base to be welcomed with open arms there as well. We repeated the same cycle of meeting, greeting, signing autographs and taking pictures. At the end we saw the sailors over on the track. We walked over to see what they had going on. They were doing a relay race to raise money for cancer research -- just unbelievable. They live their lives based off of helping others and they're worrying about the well being of others. Very humbling.

Some of the guys on the tour, like Rodney Pete and Zach Thomas, even donated large bills to the collection after which we all joined the participants for a once around the track.

We were tired from the drastic change in time zones, but not one person complained. We were all so happy to be at work helping the people who continue to serve us.

There bases are not plush resorts with pools, but rather the polar opposite -- very meager living arrangements to put it gently. Some are sleeping in tents, others in tight barracks. But yet I saw men and women with very distinct looks in their eyes -- and pride about what they were doing.

I learned some very valuable lessons today -- about teamwork, humility and pride just to name a few and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

I am also keeping a video log that I will make available once I return back home. I will keep you guys posted day by day.

By LaVar Arrington  | December 18, 2010; 6:09 PM ET
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Thank you for making this trip and a special thanks for posting what you are observing. Your comment, "But yet I saw men and women with very distinct looks in their eyes -- and pride about what they were doing," hits the nail on the head. I see this in our fine young men and women serving America every day. Hopefully, readers of your posts will be even more aware. They don't pick "the mission." But, they serve with great pride. Thanks again.
As a Christmas Wish, I would like to see the WAPO offer you a front (Sports) page article opportunity. With your ability, you can certainly write it and do our youngsters justice.
With great respect,

John Sullivan, United States Air Forces in Europe

Posted by: OldCoach | December 21, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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