Ravens Coach Harbaugh visit troops in southern Afghanistan
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, visited southern Afghanistan, yesterday and today, and met with deployed service members and received Regional Command (South) mission updates.
During his stay at Kandahar Airfield, Odierno visited Soldiers of 1st Infantry Division's 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, with Maj. Gen. Paul. J. LaCamera, RC(S) and 4th Infantry Division commanding general.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh also traveled to Kandahar Airfield with Odierno, although the two split ways today, to maximize the number of troops they could interact with.
Odierno re-enlisted two sergeants -- Jennell Waelty and Justin Schreiner -- during the visit. The cold wind did not stop the two from repeating the Oath of Enlistment/Re-enlistment outside on the flight line in front of an AH-64 attack helicopter, as Odierno administered the oath.
"First, I want to thank you for allowing me to re-enlist you," Odierno said afterward. "It's one of the things I like best about my job. I get the chance to re-enlist great Soldiers."
Waelty and Schreiner both agreed it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"It's an honor to have (Odierno) re-enlist us," said Waelty, an AH-64 attack helicopter repairer. "I love my job. There's nothing like it. There's nothing more rewarding than working on an aircraft and seeing it fly."
Schreiner, who is also an AH-64 attack helicopter repairer, said he re-enlisted in the U.S. Army "to continue to defend (my) country."
Odierno addressed the service members in attendance after he re-enlisted both Soldiers, and said that the Army "couldn't do it without people like you who are willing to make that sacrifice," and that he looked forward to both becoming sergeants major one day.
"The fact that they want to stay on and remain a member of what I call the 'Army family' is really important, especially during times of war and conflict," he added.
Odierno also observed training on the flight line and talked to 1st Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers about the Army's plans for the AH-64 Apache helicopter and OH-58 Kiowa helicopter.
Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Clark, the Regional Command (South) and 4th Infantry Division senior enlisted adviser, escorted Harbaugh to Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, where Harbaugh met with troops and signed autographs.
The previous day, Harbaugh met dozens of Soldiers with the Maryland National Guard's 1229th Transportation Company, as well as other service members, at Kandahar Airfield's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Game Room, where he also took photographs and talked football with Ravens fans.
"The biggest message that I would like to leave on behalf of the National Football League players and coaches, for all the deployed service men and women out there, is 'thank you,'" he said during an interview, yesterday, at Kandahar Airfield. "Thank you for what you do; thank you for the sacrifices you've made; thank you for the tough jobs you've done. Thank you for doing all the things necessary to allow us to all live our lives the way we want to, in freedom. It means everything to us, and we appreciate it greatly."
Sgt. Courie Roberts, a mechanic with 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, said it was a great morale booster to meet Harbaugh at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, especially because he is from Baltimore.
"I got to take a picture with him, shake his hand, hold the (Super Bowl) ring," he said. "Not too many people can say they did that, so it was a great honor," Roberts said.