Three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – cornerback Mike Haynes, safety Paul Krause, and wide receiver Lynn Swann – recently returned from a one-week USO–sponsored trip to Kuwait where they visited with American soldiers.
The group’s itinerary included stops at six bases where the Hall of Famers met more than 2,500 personnel at a variety of locations including USO canteens, maintenance and training facilities.
“It was an honor for me to have been able to share some time and bring a bit of home to the men and women serving our country,” offered Swann who was on his second USO trip. “Our allies in Kuwait were generous and engaging in the effort to provide support to our armed forces. I was amazed at the superb infrastructure and care given to soldiers. I hope we were able to lift their spirits as much as they made me proud to be an American.”
Haynes and Krause were equally impacted by the experience.
“It was great to hear from USO and military officers that just our being there was an outward expression of gratitude for our deployed soldiers,” commented Haynes. “I’ll never forget standing on the flight line shaking the hands of our soldiers as they boarded a C130 headed out on a mission and the feelings of appreciation we had for their sacrifice. The dedication and commitment of our soldiers is remarkable. I'll forever have exceptionally positive thoughts for the deployed men and women that make up our military and the people that support them. We were truly blessed to come into contact with such extraordinary people.”
The three Hall of Famers spent time greeting the troops and signing a wide array of items such as Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terrible Towels," bobblehead dolls, books, blankets, seat cushions that appeared from the barracks. In addition, every PX on base reported a run on footballs that we signed and tossed about by the players and the troops.
USO’s Senior Vice President of Entertainment and Programs John Pray added, “Let me add my heartfelt thanks to, Mike Haynes, Paul Krause and Lynn Swann for a terrific tour ... more importantly, I hope this is the start of many more Pro Football Hall of Fame tours.”
George Veras, President/CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises, who organized the trip and accompanied the Hall of Famers, indicated a spring trip is already in the planning stages. “The Pro Football Hall of Famers are unanimous in their support of the USO’s mission and we appreciated the opportunity to meet the men and women who do so much for all of us and we are ready to serve again.”
In an email received by Veras, one soldier, following a visit to his base, expressed his appreciation. “Today will be a day that I will never forget,” he wrote. “The opportunity to meet three Hall of Fame icons, Lynn Swann, Paul Krause, and Mike Haynes, was a rare treat; but more importantly, it was a huge morale boost for our young Airmen. Our HOF heroes represent what is best about America...they are true competitors that have risen to the very pinnacle of their sport.”
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