By Navy Seaman Tim Newborn
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 25, 2008 - Head coach Mike Nolan of the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers and former defensive back Eric Davis visited with U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at three forward operating bases in Afghanistan yesterday on the second day of a tour with radio talk show host Ron Barr of Sports Byline. The visit is sponsored by Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.
The group traveled to three bases in central Afghanistan -- Camp Dubbs, Camp Lightning and Camp Phoenix -- by helicopter. At each stop, U.S. sports enthusiasts eager to talk about their favorite teams greeted them.
"My reason for coming out here really is because I have tremendous respect and admiration for what you guys do," Nolan said. "I think I share the same sentiment for all the guys that I coach and coach with."
From one camp to the next, Nolan, Davis and Barr talked about how it feels to be among the servicemembers and witness firsthand their commitment and dedication to the mission.
"When I'm challenged or it's been a tough day, I think about people who are doing what they're doing over here, and I forget what was bothering me in the first place," Barr said. "My problems are nothing compared to the challenges that are faced here."
Davis, who played with the 49ers for six years, including in Super Bowl XXIX, told the troops what the trip means to him.
"I have so much respect for you guys for the teamwork that I've seen," he said. "Some people understand that kind of commitment on a certain level; you are all achieving teamwork on the highest level, where the stakes are so much higher."
Nolan, Davis and Barr took time to shake hands and to speak one-on-one with as many troops as they could.
"It's very rewarding to know that people care so much that they would risk their own life by coming out here to show their support," said Army Spc. Gary Wiggins Jr., 27th Brigade Combat Team, New York National Guard. "We see that people we idolize also idolize us, and they're thankful for us to be where we are."
(Navy Seaman Tim Newborn serves in the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)