By CPL. ED GALORegimental Combat Team 6
Natalie, a Miami Dolphin cheerleader, talks to Marines, soldiers, sailors and other service members at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, October 2, 2012. Four Miami Dolphin cheerleaders and two former Dolphin football players came to Afghanistan to visit deployed service members as part of a USO tour. (USMC Photo)
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Cheerleaders and former players from the Miami Dolphins visited Marines aboard Camp Leatherneck Afghanistan, October 1-3.
The four cheerleaders and two Dolphin alumni came as part of a USO tour geared toward boosting morale for deployed service members.
For some of the visitors, this was their first time working with service members. For others, it was something they’d done many times before.
“This is my first time in Afghanistan, but this is my fourth military tour,” said Samantha Ruiz, a fourth year Miami Dolphins cheerleader. “I’ve been to Curacao, I’ve been to Honduras, I’ve been to Cuba.”
During their trip, they toured Camp Leatherneck and spoke with different service members around the base.
“The trip has been amazing so far,” she said. “It’s definitely impacted my life. It’s made me grateful for what I have at home. It’s made me realize you guys are the bravest people we’ve ever met. You guys are our heroes.”
Ruiz said her favorite part of the trip was shooting sniper rifles and flying in a helicopter.
The cheerleaders also performed on stage for the service members. During a break in the performances, Troy Drayton and O.J. McDuffie jumped up to the stage and asked those in attendance a few Miami Dolphins trivia. Those who answered correctly were given Dolphin paraphernalia.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Drayton who played tight end for the Dolphins from 1996-2000. “It’s important to let the troops know we support them because they make it safe for us to be home and sleep at night. So it’s good for them to know we’re thinking about them back home.”
Drayton is also no stranger on working with troops. This is his fourth time visiting service members.
“The things that I’ve experienced out here have been amazing,” he said. “You don’t realize the things that the Army or the military goes through until you’re actually out here and you actually experience those things.”
Drayton said his favorite part about this visit was just being around the troops.
“It’s a brotherhood that you really can’t explain,” he said. “I know there is a camaraderie with football players and being in the NFL, but this is the biggest camaraderie in the world. Being a part of the United States military is a brotherhood in itself and only a few are chosen to be in that brotherhood, so it’s definitely a great honor.”
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