Aug 1, 2012, 12:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
The Armed Forces Entertainment Outdoor Legends Tour II is over. For 10 days Brenda Valentine, Jim Schockey, Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal and I toured Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany, MANUS Air Force Base in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and the Kabul Cluster of U.S. Military Bases in Afghanistan. We were there to bring some “home” to service men and women on deployment, give them a break from the grind and the stress they face each day, and mostly tell some hunting tales and listen to theirs.
While the trip was all about bringing something to them, I’m so humbled because I now realize I got more out of the trip than I was able to give.
The AFE Outdoor Legends Tour was my first chance to really meet and talk to soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors at all levels up close and personal – and while they are on deployment. They left a positive impression that’s permanently changed my perspective. Every person we met was polite, respectful, sincere, thoughtful, and dedicated. When they are deployed in operation Enduring Freedom for anywhere from 9 to 12 months or more, they are basically “on” 24/7. Workdays are routinely 12-16 hours long.
But even more than that they live in an environment of constant stress, in a place where outside of your fellow troops, you don’t know who you can trust. While the military does a great job of providing entertainment and recreation at each of the camps, there is still the knowledge that you can’t freely go “outside the wire.” Once you’re there that base is your home, your community, your everything. You don’t just casually go for a walk down the street or a hike in the woods – it’s just not an option.
Yet everyone we met greeted us with a smile, hardy handshakes, a thank you for coming to see them – even some bear hugs – and in many cases hunting stories and trail camera photos downloaded to cell phones of the bucks they hope to be home hunting this fall … or next year.
What I heard the most often was the simple desire to get home and go hunting with family. It doesn’t matter to these guys and gals if it’s the biggest deer in the world or if every morning offers the chance to take a limit of ducks. It’s about hunting with Dad again or getting sons and daughters their first bows and teaching them to shoot. We met tons of service people from the South – Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, etc. – and the exploding wild hog population at home better look out! As our troops return those pigs are going to be hunted by legions of extremely well-trained marksmen!
This will be the first in a series of blogs about the AFE Outdoor Legends Tour II. I’ll share some great pictures of those smiling faces as we go, and most importantly some ideas on how we can help all these troops rejoin us in the woods and on the water when they get home.
To any of you serving in the military overseas who read this, I say, “Thank you for what you do. Stay safe. God bless you. And let’s go hunting when you get home.”
More Top Posts
- None found
- Posnanski: How Heat won a game of mistakes
- PFT: Report: Hernandez accused of prior shooting
- PFT: Hernandez reportedly 'not ruled out' as suspect
- PHT: Can Blackhawks solve Rask in Game 4?
- Woods to rest elbow, skip AT&T National
- Serena Williams sorry after rape case comments
- HBT: Biogenesis suspensions still likely coming