A Journey to Brotherhood

“Brotherhood is not defined by the bond of blood, but the common tint of the soul” – Frisco Cruise

I’ve watched enough war movies and sports themed dramas to realize that the bonds of brotherhood run deep, but growing up in a household of four women, I never had the opportunity to see those bonds forming in real life.  Well, that was until my recent trip to Kuwait and Germany as part of the weeklong Power 106 & Nick Cannon N’Credible All-Star USO Basketball Tour.

Ready to play some ball!

Ready to play some ball!

Think seven guys (platinum recording artist Baby Bash, Power 106 radio personalities Big Boy, DJ E-man and DJ Thirty Two, actors Arlen Escarpeta and NaNa as well as professional athlete Michael “AirDogg” Stewart) and me, the lone female, packed into one vehicle and you get the story of how I learned about brotherhood on a bus in Kuwait.

A team of 20, we were divided into two groups.  The first included multi-faceted entertainer Nick Cannon and artists from his N’Credible record label Kristinia DeBarge, boy band 4Count and hip-hop artists PWD, and we were the second group.  The objective of the trip, boost troop morale with some good-old fashioned team competition – basketball, anyone?

Our first stop was Camp Buehring in Kuwait.  Our mode of transportation, two 12-passenger vehicles.  Travel time, two hours.  As we headed toward our destination, I was unaware that I was undertaking a journey all my own.

The bus was alive with chatter.   From the Power 106 players recalling their “best of” moments on the court to USO tour veterans Baby Bash and Big Boy reliving their previous USO tour together, it seemed that every sentence began with “Remember that game…” or “Remember that time when…” followed by the laughter that can only come from shared memories.   And then there was me, quietly listening because it was clear that what was happening here was the same thing that could’ve been happening in locker rooms thousands of miles away, or here in Kuwait, in the middle of the dessert where the soldier next to you quickly becomes the brother who protects you – a brotherhood was forming.   And in what seemed like a blink of an eye, two hours had passed and we had arrived at our destination.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 2.02.46 PMGame time and its standing room only on the outdoor basketball court. A sandstorm on the horizon and you could feel the energy and excitement from both teams.  Cheers and laughter erupted from the sidelines as Big Boy emceed the game, and if it weren’t for the glare of reflector belts, the camouflaged uniforms and the blast walls, I could have been watching any pick-up game at a neighborhood court.

Both teams played hard and it was the Power 106/N”Credible team who finished with top points.  At the end of the game, players from both teams met center court to shake hands, hug and extend their compliments for a game well played. These men and women had sweated together, competed with and against each other, laughed with each other and from what I could tell neither team walked away with winning or losing on their mind, it was the experience they were taking away with them.

As we loaded into our buses and I settled back into my seat of anonymity, the chatter began again but this time it wasn’t about past experiences.  It was about the day, the people they’d met, the servicemen and women they played against and how the experience had changed their lives.  It was clear that being able to say ‘thank you’ to our troops, to bring them a break from their day-to-day activities and to hear from our servicemen and women how much that meant to them, was something that would forever connect these men to our troops.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 2.01.53 PMOften we think that something really big has to happen to have an impact on our lives, but sometimes it’s a combination of experiences that do the trick.  Being able to listen and watch as these men grew closer over their experience, combined with my own history with the military – hearing from troops how during deployments your fellow soldiers become your family –made me realize that there are brothers who we are born to love, and those whose bonds are forged in experience.  And those kinds of bonds don’t take a lifetime to make, sometimes the time it takes to play a basketball game or travel from one point to another is all you need.

We can’t all go to the places our troops are deployed to show our support, but there are ways that we as Americans can let them know that we are always by their side, and that we recognize the sacrifices they make to serve our country.  To find out how you can help visit us online at www.uso.org.   - Sharee Posey, USO Senior Communications Specialist 

News & Notes from Around the World

Kuwait – The different units assigned to Camp Ali Al Salem started a Softball League and the USO sponsored their T-Shirts.  Thomas Lee, a Duty manager at AAS, coordinated the all the logistics to make it happen.

Each team came up with a design and the USO got the shirts made in Kuwait City. The USO logo was placed on each shirt to help promote the USO and to make it all seem as real as possible. The Softball League was created to unite the units and as a way to help boost service members’ morale.

Players get ready to hit the diamond as part of the newly formed softball league in Kuwait.

Stuttgart, Germany – On Friday June 4 2010, USO Stuttgart partnered with FMWR, AUSA and other local organizations to welcome home the 554 MP Co after a one year deployment in Afghanistan.  The USO Mobile Canteen served up hot dogs, the local American Legion grilled up hamburgers and pork steaks that were donated by the VFW.  USO Stuttgart volunteers cooked up sides and  salads, while the Center provided the desserts and cake.  A disc jockey played music and a bouncing castle and inflatable jousting ring provided entertainment for the kids.  In addition, USO Stuttgart raffled off four free entry registrations for our 19th Annual Golf Tournament in August, as well as amusement park tickets.  We take great pride in serving those who continue to serve our great nation!

A USO banner is the perfect way to welcome home Troops returning from Afghanistan!

Kuwait – At Buehring sometimes we have the opportunity to do something a little out of the ordinary. A couple months ago someone asked me if I would hold onto a card for her boyfriend who would be coming through Camp Buehring in June. Being the last stop for all units going into Iraq, Buehring has a constant flow of transient troops. In the flow of troops, Sgt. Ball found me to ask if someone had left him a card…over two months later! It was great to be able to hand deliver the card to brighten his day and help two people make a connection after they both passed through our tent doors!

Reunited, and it feels so good: Sgt. Ball with his card!

Guam – La’Licia is a six year old native of Guam who continues to greatly grieve the loss of her beloved Uncle and godfather — Sergeant Gregory Fejeran –who died at the age of 28 in Operation Enduring Freedom.

When Alicia Yamzon, La’Licia’s mother, shared this information with the Guam USO and that La’Licia had an upcoming birthday, the Guam USO arranged a small party at the USO for La’Licia and her family. USO provided a birthday cake that read “To La’Licia — Happy Birthday — I Love You — From Daddy.” She received presents, and was then connected with her daddy in Afghanistan via Skype…Please click here to read the full story.

The birthday cake from Daddy was held up for him to see, along with the presents and other special gifts for all his children.