Captain Jena during the last Tennessee Titans home game
On the eleventh hour of November 11th, 1918, the armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended World War I was signed on that day and a ceasefire went into effect. The origins of Veterans Day date back to President Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919 to mark the end of WW I.
After World War II, there was a movement to turn Armistice Day into a time to honor all those who served in the armed forces. President Eisenhower signed a bill into law in 1954 and Congress voted to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
In honor of Veterans Day, for every point scored during the NFL’s 32 Salute to Service games, the league will donate $100 to each of its non-profit partners: the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO, and Wounded Warrior Project. Next Monday night, the Titans will host their Salute to Service game, and the Titans Cheerleaders will be there to support the Titans and the troops. But the TTC salute to the troops is just not a one game service, as they visit military bases throughout the world throughout the year.
Here are the TTC at their last home game against the Texans, in their camouflage uniforms:
Titans Cheerleaders traveled to Japan to entertain and visit with U.S. military members stationed at Camp Zama and Osaka
Titans Cheerleaders Yalea and Heidi recently traveled to Japan to entertain and visit with U.S. military members stationed at Camp Zama and Osaka.
During their six-day tour, managed by ProTour Productions, the ladies had the opportunity to experience Japanese culture, while simultaneously bringing the troops and their families a little bit of America to keep their spirits lifted high during football season.
The cheerleaders spent time with service members during meals and various events throughout the week. They also taught a cheer and dance clinic to children living on American military bases, and enjoyed a meet-and-greet with young Japanese women aspiring to become NFL Cheerleaders.
“I come from a military family, and I understand the daily sacrifices military personnel and their families make on a daily basis to serve this country,” Heidi said. “Having the chance to travel to Japan and personally thank the troops stationed there meant a lot to me. I felt so welcomed by everyone at Camp Zama, and I hope that we were able to bring our troops a little taste of home.”
It marked the fourth visit for Titans Cheerleaders to American military bases in Japan. Over the last three years, the cheerleaders have entertained American troops in Kuwait, Djibouti, Guam, Diego Garcia and Alaska, among other locations.
To see more pictures from their tour, follow Yalea and Heidi on Twitter at: @Yalea_TTC and @HeidiLWest .
Pro Tour Productions is led by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Director of Cheerleading, Sandy Charboneau. Created in 2010, ProTour Productions has worked with various entertainers, including NFL players and cheerleaders, comedians and musicians, to raise morale for the U.S. Armed Forces on six continents through dozens of international tours. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/protourproductions.
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN — Army helicopters arrived, midmorning, delivering a taste of American tradition and entertainment to a group of Fort Polk soldiers at Forward Operating Base Fenty.
Nine members of the cheerleading squad for the NFL’s Washington Redskins visited the troops Jan. 22 during a tour of Afghanistan. Forward Operating Base Fenty is home for two deployed 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot battalions — 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment and 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. There are various smaller units assigned there as well.
During their visit, the cheerleaders and an Elvis Presley impersonator performed, ate lunch with the troops and signed autographs during a meet-and-greet session immediately following their performances.
“We want to be here; we fought our teammates to come here, not physically, because we know how important what you guys do for us is,” said Ashley A., co-captain of the cheerleaders. The Redskins do not release the full names of members of the cheerleading squad.
“I think it’s great,” Spc. Matthew Acker said. “It lets us know that people back home care.”
Entertainment like this can play a part in lifting soldiers’ morale, which encourages them to make it to the end of their deployment and ultimately make it home, Acker said.
“It motivates you for a while; you need motivators sometimes,” he said. “It’s a reminder that you’re doing something good and that people believe in what we’re doing over here.”
For one cheerleader, performing for troops comes from a sense of duty that for her is close to home.
“My whole family was in the military so I have a big heart for (deployed soldiers). I know the sacrifices they go through, I’ve been through it,” said cheerleaders co-captain Mila T. “I just want them to know that people are still waiting for them when they return home.”
Even though an all-female cheerleading team visited a combat zone, there were female soldiers in the audience as well.
“We try to include them in the show,” Ashley said. “We make sure to give them a shout out in our show, interact with them and let them know that they’re just as important to us as the males because they’re doing just as much.”
Accommodating the female audience members was noticed and appreciated.
“I thought it was outstanding –– I’m a big Redskins fan,” said Sgt. Tiffani Fisher, a radiology technician. “I was more than OK with the dancing and outfits. I appreciate beauty where it lies.
“It’s also nice to see people come out to the desert just to show us a good time and support the troops.”
When the Super Bowl starts up on Sunday evening, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback won’t be the only high-ranking team member to hit the field – in fact, there will be a first lieutenant among them.
Alicia is a member of the Seahawks’ cheerleading squad who also works as a full-time production manager for the Air Force.
The San Diego, California native joined the team as a rookie this season after dancing on the cheerleading squad at the U.S. Air Force Academy, her alma matter.
Alicia has been on active military duty for the last seven years.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2010, Alicia was stationed in Seattle to help manage the production of military air crafts.
Last fall her mother suggested that she continue her cheerleading career as an adult while also serving in the military.
In fact, she comes from a military family – her older brother is an army green beret. She has said that she always wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a soldier.
After some research, the buxom blonde decided to try out for a role on the Seattle Seahawks’ ‘Sea Gals’ squad. But she had to seek approval from the military before even applying for a spot on the team, as the auditions’ final round is aired live on local television.
She told Seattle TV show Evening Magazine that she had to ‘write a talking paper about how it would be beneficial to the Air Force for me to be a Sea Gal. They decided it would be a great idea.’
In April, she auditioned for a spot on the squad alongside 250 other hopefuls.
After multiple elimination rounds, it was decided that Alicia would be one of 34 girls on the team.
‘It was awesome, very surreal,’ she told blog On Her Game of how it felt when she learned that she had been accepted.
In her Sea Gal online bio, she says that her best life experience came ‘the day I joined the Military. I was 18 years old at the time, and the Air Force shaped me into the person I am today. Some days have been hard, but every day has been worth it.’
She made her Sea Gal debut on August 17 at Seattle’s CentryLink Field.
She told Evening Magazine: ‘We do have to stay in line while we are cheerleading and do a lot of the same things as the person next to you – much like you do in the military. They do complement each other.’
This year was a good one for Alicia to to join the Sea Gal squad. On Sunday the Seattle Sea Hawks will face off against the Denver Broncos in the 48th Super Bowl.
The young dancer could not be more excited. She wrote to fans on her Facebook page: ‘I still cannot believe that next week we will be in New York! I am so proud of our Seahawks team and all of the amazing Sea Gals! And thank you to our awesome fans for helping us get there! Go Hawks!’
CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Normally around this time of year, most people are trying to finish up their holiday shopping, but a few lucky fanatics received an early holiday gift at the Hansen Field House Gymnasium and the Community Activity Center on Camp Casey.
Twelve Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders visited with soldiers, family members, Department of Defense civilians, and Korean nationals Dec. 20, 2013.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Smith, from Oklahoma City, a platoon sergeant assigned to 333rd Field Artillery Target Acquisition Battery, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “I think it is a great opportunity for the kids to interact with one of America’s favorite teams.”
As much as the troops and family members were happy to receive their holiday gift, the cheerleaders were honored to meet some of their heroes.
The United Service Organizations and the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders have been teaming up to visit troops all over the world in a tradition that has been growing strong for 77 years.
“First of all, I am honored to be one of the 12 cheerleaders chosen to be a part of this opportunity,” said Olivia Rene, from Dallas, in her second year as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. “We have been doing this for a really long time and not a lot of people get to go and visit troops in their environment and to be able to tell them thank you face-to-face during the holidays.”
During the visit, the cheerleaders interacted with more than 60 boys and girls in a two-hour football and cheer youth clinic and signed more than 100 autographs.
According to Rene, their overall message to the kids during the clinic is teamwork, being a good leader, and health and nutrition.
For Maj. Michelle Myers, from New Orleans, a communications officer assigned to 2nd Infantry Division, having the cheerleaders here in Korea for the children is a wonderful opportunity.
“It is a great motivation for the girls,” said Myers. “They are able to learn the importance of everything that is incorporated in being a cheerleader, not just cheering.”
“They must have other skills associated with that,” Myers continued. “When the cheerleaders introduced themselves, a lot of them went to college and received their degrees. Just by them doing that it shows the girls it’s more to being a cheerleader than just the games.”
Having the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders here in Korea was a wonderful experience. Whether Cowboys fans or not, everyone involved made memories for lifetime.
“Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts,” said Rene. “It really means a lot to us that you accommodate us and let us come visit you. We are so thankful for your service, and as much as we can give back to you we are willing to do that.”
As a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader, Rachel Washburn toted pom-poms. As an Army intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan, she carried an assault rifle and pistol. She was a pioneer in a special mission to relate to local women in ways that would be culturally inappropriate for male troops — including helping deliver an Afghan baby in a snowstorm.
Washburn, 25, who recently returned from her second tour in Afghanistan, will be honored Sunday night as a “Hometown Hero” by the Eagles at their home against the Chicago Bears.
Cheerleader turned soldier? Did that turn heads when she was in military training or living in a mud hut with Green Berets in a village in Afghanistan?
“Initially, it was kind of a novelty to people I met if they ever found out,” Washburn said Thursday in a phone interview from Savannah, Ga., where she was on the first day of her post-deployment leave.
“It’s kind of a bit of a shock. You don’t expect those two things to go hand in hand with one person.”
She didn’t join the Army on a whim. During her three seasons with the Eagles, Washburn was an Army ROTC student and history major at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He father was an Army helicopter pilot and an Air Force fighter pilot. She figures she moved 17 or 18 times growing up, but she calls Philadelphia home even though she just attended college there.
“I am so proud of Rachel and all of her extraordinary accomplishments. She has tremendous courage and has made an amazing impact on the lives of others,” said Barbara Zaun, Eagles director of cheerleading.
During Washburn’s freshman year at Drexel in 2006, she had a friend who was a basketball cheerleader with the Philadelphia 76ers. Washburn loved dancing and thought that would be a “cool experience.” With her fondness for football, she tried out for the Eagles squad in the spring of her freshman year.
“I knew it was kind of a long shot with all those beautiful, talented women that try out every year,” she said. “I just thought, why not? Go big or go home.”
She made the team and cheered for the Eagles from 2007-09. In 2008, she went on a military goodwill tour with the cheerleaders to Iraq and Kuwait. In her case, it also was a military internship.
“ROTC is a very canned version of what the military is going to be. So getting to actually talk to people who are in the military and doing their jobs day in and day out … was very eye opening,” she said. “It was kind of what re-lit the fire and my passion for the military.”
After graduation, she was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Army (She’s now a 1st lieutenant stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga.). She went through paratrooper training, but her role was military intelligence.
Prior to her first eight-month tour in Afghanistan in 2011-12, she became part of a new “Cultural Support Team” program to attach women to special ops units to relate to Afghan women.
“I was always seen as somebody they could relate to and not this American imposter who brings my values to that country,” said Washburn, who wore a head scarf when amongst the Afgahns.
“We kind of noticed that women everywhere share certain similarities. They obviously care about their home, their children. Women everywhere love pretty things. So if we wore a pretty head scarf, it would be like an ice breaker.”
Near the end of her first deployment, on the day her unit was supposed to leave a village, a snowstorm hit. She and her partner learned a local woman had gone into labor. Her husband was unable to get her to a midwife. The husband did not want male troops to see her.
Washburn and her partner took the woman in a military vehicle to their unit’s mud hut. On an Army radio, a special ops medic helped them deliver the baby.
“Everything was successful,” said Washburn. “Her husband gave us a little trinket. He was so grateful to have a boy.”
Washburn returned from her second tour in Afghanistan on Nov. 17. In those nine months, she had a different role as a platoon leader of an Army intelligence unit.
She and other women who participated in the Army program in Afghanistan have considered a book. Some kept journals. One is a writer. “We were the first to ever do anything like that. We bonded so much,” said Washburn.
According to Washburn, her military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Airborne Badge and Air Assault Badge.
Washburn said she has about a year left in the Army, but she is considering signing on for a few more years. “There are some opportunities that are enticing me.”
There are issues surrounding women in the military, including opportunities for advancement and sexual harassment
“My eyes have been opened to those issues,” said Washburn. “Considering the communities that I have been working in, those issues exist, and I think they’re ever present in the media these days with all the changes that the military is pursuing as far as gender equality.
“But with the program that I did in my first deployment, we were part of that change, and nothing motivates me more than being an example of what motivated females can be in the military. I just hope the military continues to progress and that skilled individuals are afford the opportunities available to them.”
Washburn and the other woman assigned with her the “Cultural Support Team” with their unit in Afghanistan lived in a mud hut with the males.
The two women had separate living area. “It was a pretty big hut,” said Washburn. “So we had our own female quarters, which was nice.”
It would be incorrect to say that Washburn traded her white cheerleader boots for combat boots. The Eagles cheerleaders wear uniforms designed by Vera Wang. But for dancing purposes they wear designer Gant sneakers.
“I like to think it’s because we were more athletic and did more complicated routines,” said Washburn.
She added that cheerleaders – like women in the military – should not be labeled with stereotypes.
“The woman I met in cheerleading were all incredibly intelligent, ambitious women,” she said.
Sweethearts for Soldiers? This was an organization created by two former NFL Cheerleaders, Bari Yonkers (Arizona Cardinals) and Tonya Helman (Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers.)
SFS recruited NFL Cheerleader alumni from all across the country to visit American military bases in the US and abroad, doing handshake tours, performances, and meet and greets. They did a lot of good for many years before the organization was dissolved last Spring. I haven’t spoken with Tonya and Bari, but I imagine, it was just one of those things where it had served its purpose and life was taking both women in new directions. I know Tonya had remarried, but I wasn’t sure what Bari was up to. When I found out, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Bari joined the Air Force Reserves.
This past Thursday, the Chargers organization celebrated their 25th annual Salute to the Military with special pregame and halftime ceremonies honoring local servicemen and servicewomen. And this year, the Charger Girls wore special military themed uniforms to help celebrate the occasion, a first for the venerable cheerleading squad. Now if only the Chargers could have put up a better effort against the visiting San Francisco 49ers, the event would have been complete. But alas, it was not meant to be as the 49ers crushed the Chargers in convincing fashion, 41 – 6. Not even a special halftime performance by rock band Madison Rising could help raise the spirits of disappointed Chargers fans.
But the Charger Girls could and they looked amazing in their special game day uniforms.
As is custom for these game day reports, let’s begin with the Line Captains in their military themed uniforms: Ariel (Army), Kara (Marine Corps), Katelyn (Navy), and Natalie (Air Force).
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is a rookie that caught my eye. With a flirty personality and All-American good looks, this week’s Charger Girl of the Day is rookie Shelbi.
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea –The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders brought some of their team spirit from Texas to USAG Yongsan, to boost the morale of the troops during a meet and greet at the R & R Bar and Grill here, May 10.
“I really enjoyed the visit from the cheerleaders,” said Pfc. Lim Hong-seo, from USAG Yongsan Public Affairs Office. “This was my first time experiencing something like this and it was great to feel the appreciation from them.”
The cheerleaders brought a taste of their hometown spirit to Korea, and a familiar face to the Yongsan community.
“I have the best memories of being here in Korea,” said Jenna Lene Jackson, a current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. “This is where I met the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders during a USO tour, and it’s always an honor to come here to give back to my community.”
Jackson attended Seoul American High during her Junior and Senior year while her father was stationed here in the army. Her fellow cheerleaders visiting Yongsan were Brittany Schram, Mia Greenhouse, Jacqueline Bob, Syndey Durso and Lauren Williams.
“Don’t give up on your dream, keep pushing forward and never let outside influences bring you down no matter how tough the road is to get there,” Jackson said.
“This is definitely a good thing that they do for the troops,” said Maj. Aaron Basham, from Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR). “It boosts morale and lets the Soldiers know they are appreciated for all their hard work.”
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders thanked everyone for coming out and also thanked American Airlines for providing them with transportation to make the trip possible.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Cassie Trammell (front) and Jackie Bob, along with Peyton Manning, Curt Schilling, Austin Collie and Vincent Jackson arrive at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, to entertain the troops with a USO tour March 1, 2013. Photo: Staff Sgt. Dave Overson, U.S. Army
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Jackie Bob addresses Sailors of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during a USO sponsored visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Seth Coulter) Photo: SN Coulter
Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Cassie Trammell, left, performs a dance routine as American Idol finalists Diana DeGarmo, middle, and Ace Young perform for Sailors in hangar bay two aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during a USO sponsored tour led by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld. John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate) Photo: MC2 (AW/SW) Kenneth Abbate
Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Cassie Trammell, left, performs a dance routine as American Idol finalists Diana DeGarmo, middle, and Ace Young perform for Sailors in hangar bay two aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during a USO sponsored tour. (Pentagon photo)
True to their long history of supporting troops and military families the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC) recently set out on their 75th USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour and are busy spreading holiday cheer to troops in the Middle East. Among the most traveled of USO tour veterans, the DCC have traveled to more than 200 locations since their first USO tour in 1979, lifting the spirits and delivering a touch of home to countless troops and military families around the world.
So far, the DCC have uplifted the lives of hundreds of troops spending this holiday season deployed overseas.
As part of their longstanding USO history, the DCC have visited troops and military families in locations such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cuba, Germany, Iceland, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, as well as numerous stateside visits.
Always looking for ways to show their support of troops members of the DCC attended the USO’s 2012 Gala to help celebrate and thank troops for their service and dedication.
The team wrapped up the 7th season of the hit reality series “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team,” which airs on the CMT network.
When getting into the holiday spirit this season, remember our deployed servicemen and women, wounded troops and military families. Visit usowishbook.org and recognize a special occasion while directly benefiting troops and their families.
Attributed to Sloan Gibson:
“The USO and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have been delivering life-changing experiences to troops and military families for more than 30 years. We are both proud and thankful for the DCC’s continued commitment to supporting our troops and their families. This 75th tour is a momentous occasion in USO history and we couldn’t be happier about sharing this milestone with an organization like the DCC.”
Attributed to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Cassie Trammell:
“We’ve seen so many service men and women so far and it’s been a blast. We are so grateful for the opportunity to extend America’s thanks to our troops during this holiday season, a time when they miss their families and comforts of home the most. Being able to distract them, even for just a little while, from what they are missing back home is such an honor for all of us. ”
Her brother Brett is serving in Afghanistan, so the salute to the military was very special to Colts Cheerleader Megan O during the Colts-Miami game
NFL games often feature tributes to members of the US Military, particularly in November around the time of Veterans Day. For instance, during the home game in Indianapolis against Miami, the Colts Cheerleaders paid tribute by donning special uniforms to represent the branches of the military, and also performed a special USO themed halftime show, including each Cheerleader swing dancing with an active military member.
For one of the Colts Cheerleaders, the connection to the military is especially meaningful; Megan O’s brother is serving his country in Afghanistan. Megan shared her feelings about her brother’s service with UltimateCheerleaders, in addition sharing her experiences to growing up in the “Circus Capital of the World,” her interest in art history, and her exciting Super Bowl week last year when she performed on Jimmy Fallon’s show.
Megan grew up in Indiana, born right in the center of a band of brothers. “I was born in Peru, Indiana,” Megan explains. “It’s a very small town in North Central Indiana. I lived on a farm until I left for college and I have been in Indianapolis ever since. When I moved to Indy, I lived with my two brothers. My eldest brother bought a house so, my brother Blake, who was also going to college in Indy, and myself moved in. I have two more brothers I left behind in Peru. So if you’re keeping track, I have four brothers and I am right in the middle. I have so many good memories with my family. My best memories would have to be swimming in my pool with all my brothers and cousins on July 4th and then watching the boys ride there dirt bikes and four-wheelers until we got dressed up and drove into town to watch the fireworks.”
Megan started dancing early, especially after she began using the furniture as her first stage, which motivated her parents to start her in dance class. “I started to dance when I was four years old at The Ballet Arts of Peru,” Megan recalls. “My mom tells the story all the time about how she tried to sign me up early for classes because I would climb on top of the coffee table and dance. I didn’t cheer at all during high school. I was too focused on ballet, tap, and jazz. I was, however, voted most school spirit in high school!”
And Megan won another title in her hometown, as part of their annual summer festival. In addition to being the birthplace of Cole Porter, Peru, Indiana is also noted for being the “Circus Capital of the World” because once upon a time it was the winter headquarters for the biggest circuses, including Ringling Brothers and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. As a result, Peru is home to The International Circus Hall of Fame, the home of the world’s only remaining manufacturer of steam calliopes, and annually holds the Peru Amateur Circus as part of their Circus City Festival and Parade. All of the performers are amateurs, ranging in age from seven to twenty-one, and if you picture in your head what you would expect from a small town’s young people putting on a circus, multiply the level of performance about tenfold; their performance level is really unbelievable.
So Megan, were you one of the circus performers? “I wasn’t in the Circus but I was actually Miss Circus City!” Megan answers. “It was a scholarship pageant and I had so much fun. I went to the Circus every night for a week, after I won, to be introduced and help with the clown and kiddy acts. I had a blast! I was never in the Circus but my mom and sister-in-law were. My mom did slack-wire and my sister-in-law did the trapeze. I have a great respect for the craft and the countless volunteers who devote so much of their time to the Circus. I would love to learn the trapeze but I think I’ll stick with the clown acts.”
When Megan graduated high school, she moved to Indianapolis and currently majors in art history. “I have always been a history buff and I really enjoyed art classes growing up,” Megan explains. “I have a creative personality so I knew I wanted to do something in the arts. I chose the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI because of its location to all the major museums in Indiana. During my freshman year, I took ‘Introduction to Art History,’ and it was love at first lecture.”
Asked about her favorite artists, periods of art, and dream job, Megan responds, “I love the Northern Renaissance and my favorite artist from the period has to be Jan van Eyck. My dream job would be at the Met in New York City working in Collections Management.”
So Megan, as someone immersed in the ever changing would of technology but also with the knowledge of where art has been historically, where is the future of art headed? “The art experience is evolving,” relates Megan. “With iPhones and customized computers, the ‘museum’ is changing the experience of the audience and moving toward becoming more personalized. I’m really excited to be a part of this change. New techniques and trends in collections care and restorations are really important to me, and I could geek out about this for hours.”