Super Bowl Champs Drew Brees and Billy Miller Touchdown in Turkey with NFL’s Donnie Edwards and the USO

(L-R) Billy Miller, Drew Brees and Donnie Edwards pose in front of a U. S. Air Force C-17 aircraft with members of the 38th Aerial Expeditionary Group at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, March 24, 2010. On a mission to boost morale and bring a touch of home to troops the trio recently took part in their third USO tour together. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

(L-R) Billy Miller, Donnie Edwards and Drew Brees pose in the cockpit of a U. S. Air Force C-17 aircraft with U. S. Air Force Captain Stacey Miller of Chicago, IL. at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, March 24, 2010. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

NFL players (l-r) Donnie Edwards, Billy Miller and Drew Brees pose for a photo with U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Abigail Davis, from Tallahasse, FL at the NATO Allied Air Command in Izmir, Turkey, March 25, 2010. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

NFL veteran Donnie Edwards makes a new friend while visting an orphanage in Izmir, Turkey, March 25, 2010. Edwards is joined by New Orleans Saints players Drew Brees and Billy Miller. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

NFL players (l-r) Donnie Edwards, Billy Miller and Drew Brees sign autographs for U. S. military personell and their families at the NATO Allied Air Command in Izmir, Turkey, March 25, 2010. Donnie Edwards is shown here with U. S. Air Force Major Stanton P. Schnieder, from Colorado Springs, CO. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees (center), NFL veteran Donnie Edwards (left of Brees) and Saints tight end Billy Miller (right of Brees) poses with members of the 39th Security Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, March 24, 2010. (USO photo by Michael Clifton)

Troops Use Sports to Keep Moral High

One of the popular requests for the USO2Go program is the athletic kit, which features recreational activity equipment including a putting green and portable putting set, volley ball and badminton set, horseshoes, frisbees, footballs, flag football belts, nerf balls, soccer balls and a magnetic dart board.  Individual USO Centers often augment those offerings with sports equipment of their own.  And sometimes they get really creative!

Camp Buehring, for example, recently had NASCAR-themed event inspired by the recent race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Right before the race began, troops signed up on the “Caution Lap Pool” to guess when the first five cautions would occur. Winners won prizes if they guessed correctly.

They also held their own race, right inside the USO! Troops competed against each other by racing remote-controlled cars throughout the cafe on a 550 cord race track.  How cool is that? As one duty manager said, “Troops and staff had a blast at this event!”

USO Race

It's not as easy as it looks! Just because they're lacking a full-size track doesn't mean Troops have any less of a good time racing remote-controlled cars through the cafe at USO Camp Buehring.

Over at the USO at Ali Al Salem, it was the Great American Pastime that brought together Troops.  Staff and volunteers there hosted a day of festivities last week to say goodbye to the old command cell and welcome the new command cell.  The events kicked off with a good old game of softball, with the old command cell winning the game 22 to 17.  “Take me out to the ballgame” now has a whole new meaning!

Baseball USO

A serviceman knocks it out of the proverbial park, as the old and new command hit the diamond at USO Ali Al Salem. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

USO Basebal

Teammates cheer a running back to home base, as the old command cell defeated the new in a game of softball. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

Finally, it’s not our story, but we think it’s a good one anyway.  A group of Canadian and American hockey players from the NHL recently travelled to Afghanistan for a game of street hockey.  And they brought along the Stanley Cup!

This friendly rivals have been playing a series of exhibition games organized by the Canadian government.  Players past and present played alongside Troops in Kandahar, among other locations.  This is the fourth time the Stanley Cup has visited the Persian Gulf.  Keep updated with posts on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ website and take a moment to listen to a report from NPR.

With Team Canada's Lt. Cmdr. Lorne Hartwell (Royal Canadian Navy) close on his heels, Sgt. Francisco N. Aponte of the Kandahar Hawks (a maintenance noncommissioned officer with the 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command) chases after the ball in a ball-hockey game against Team Canada March 4. Team Canada, comprised mostly of former National Hockey League players, visited Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, on a morale trip for troops. (Army photo by PFC Elisebet Freeburg)