USO Tour Sparks Excitment at Naval Station Rota, Spain

The United Service Organizations (USO) brought all-star entertainment to members aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain, Feb. 26 to start their spring tour to visit troops abroad. 

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld hosted the star-studded group of athletes, coaches and musicians.

“I am thankful for those who wear the cloth, to serve our nation and serve our country overseas,” said Winnefeld.

The show kicked off with opening remarks from NAVSTA Rota’s Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Kraverath.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to host such a distinguished group of individuals,” said Kraverath. “Events like these are great for morale and show our service members that their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.”

During the show, members of the tour thanked service members for the sacrifices and service to the country.

“I’m so honored to be a part of this [USO tour],” said Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. “This being our first stop, obviously you guys are very special, and I’m excited to be here. I’m a military brat. On the flight over, talking to these guys, Peyton and some of the other athletes and cheerleaders, one way or another we all seem to be related to someone in the military. Whether it’s a grandfather or a niece or nephew, brother or sister-in-law, we all know somebody who has served in our military. For myself it was my father.”

Jackson explained his experience as a military dependent moving overseas and experiencing the military life as his father served in the Army.

“I don’t like to make a comparison to the military and football, sports even, because you guys are on the front lines. You’re dealing with live ammunition, doing something extreme. You’re protecting our freedom, creating world peace and we pretty much, on Sundays, entertain people for four hours.

Jackson said, however, that there are some parallels between the National Football League (NFL) and the military.

“The leadership, the sacrifice, the communication you guys have, the training, the bonding, the unselfish mentality that you have to have to create a team atmosphere,” said Jackson. “Just like a football team, we come from all walks of life. You work together, you train to accomplish that mission, you build bonds and relationships that last a lifetime. That’s kind of what we do as athletes.”

Four-time World Series pitcher Kurt Schilling also spoke of his appreciation.

“Thank you doesn’t even begin to describe what we think, what we feel and how we feel about you and your families,” said Schilling. “I grew up the son of an airborne paratrooper. My dad served in the 101st for 20 years. This is my second trip over on a USO tour. The first one was eight days that I’ll never forget. This one is starting out to be unforgettable as well. Thank you. To the families, I know there’s a price to be paid in uniform and out by the families. It’s just apparent that the one thing, when we walk away today, that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. We wish you nothing but the best.”

Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning also expressed his appreciation for the commitment service members have for the country.

“Thanks from the bottom of my heart,” said Manning. “The one thing that has always motivated me playing football is being accountable to my teammates. What’s really driven me for the past 16 years playing football is being accountable, doing my job at the very best that I can to be accountable to help my teammates. I know that’s exactly what you believe in, as it’s really what the military is all about.”

Manning and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie threw autographed footballs to service members in the audience.

After the performance, members had a chance to meet with Winnefeld and the entertainers for a photo and autograph session.

“This is my third time on a USO tour and my first time here in Spain,” said Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Jackie Bob. “I’m so thankful and honored for you all to come up here and see us. It’s an honor for us to be able to say ‘thank you’ for those that serve us.”

Naval Today Staff, February 27, 2013

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