News>C-17 aircrew scores touchdown in mission with NFL greats
The Fox NFL Sunday team hold up a flag onboard a Charleston Air Force Base Globemaster III that was presented to them by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Richard Williamson, commander, assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed to Southwest Asia, Nov. 5, 2009. The NFL team participated in an air drop that supported ground troops in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrene)
by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Kapinos
U.S. AFCENT Combat Camera Team
11/6/2009 - OVER AFGHANISTAN -- The lone figure was crouched in his uniform, scanning the field from under his helmet for his intended receivers. But this was no stadium; it was a C-17 Globemaster III flying over the harsh and dangerous terrain that is Afghanistan. And there was no football, but rather, 18 much-needed bundles of food, water and supplies for troops at a forward operating base. The quarterback, in this case a loadmaster, found his targets. Touchdown!
Former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw would be proud.
And he was; he was there.
Mr. Bradshaw and the rest of the team from "Fox NFL Sunday" is touring installations throughout Southwest Asia as part of an event with Armed Forces Entertainment. During the visit, they'll meet with deployed troops and sign autographs. The trip concludes with a two-hour broadcast of "Fox NFL Sunday" from Afghanistan, Nov. 8.
Visiting the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are:
- Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers QB, 1970-1983
- Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins coach, 1989-1999
- Howie Long, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders defensive end, 1981-1993
- Michael Strahan, New York Giants defensive end, 1993-2007
- Curt Menefee, sportscaster
- Jay Glazer, sportswriter
To get to Afghanistan, the NFL legends tagged along on an airdrop mission. For the aircrew, it was the chance of a lifetime to meet several NFL legends, but also an opportunity to showcase the efforts of the Air Force supporting the joint fight.
"Terry Bradshaw is a hero of mine and to be able to show him what the Air Force does is really awesome," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Gaffney, an instructor loadmaster with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "It's great to show them how we can take pretty much anything and drop it wherever we want."
According to Mr. Long, seeing the mission up close and personal brought a new sense of appreciation for today's military, something every American should be reminded of, he said.
"When you're on a trip like this, you truly get to see how remarkable this generation of Americans is," Mr. Long said.
Toward the end of the mission, the aircrew presented an American flag, along with a certificate, to the football legends to thank them for visiting the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
The visit is a first for the Air Force. In December 2000, "Fox NFL Sunday" broadcast two shows from the flight deck of the USS Harry S. Truman, during a patrol in the Mediterranean Sea.
Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead Department of Defense agency for bringing entertainment to servicemembers overseas.