DENVER - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning recently went on his first USO tour to Afghanistan and wrote about his experience on ESPN's website.
The 14-year veteran was joined on the trip by Adm. James Winnefeld, who is the ninth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the second highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military.
Also making the trip was Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver and Northern Colorado alum Vincent Jackson, free-agent wide receiver Austin Collie; Indianapolis Colts quarterback coach Clyde Christensen, former major league pitcher Curt Schilling, American Idol singers Diana Degarmo and Ace Young and two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
Marking the 76th USO tour, Manning visited injured troops at Walter Reed Hospital, threw passes to military personnel on aircraft carrier USS Stennis and signed numerous autographs during the trip. He also talked about how he took a group picture with some Navy SEALs from Colorado.
Manning wrote on the Broncos website that the best catch on the trip was made by a 1-year-old baby boy who was wearing his Broncos jersey. That baby was being held by his mom who was wearing his Colts jersey.
On his was to Afghanistan, Manning showed his lighter side as he jumped on the PA system announcing, “This is your captain, Captain Manning speaking, welcome aboard. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet, currently looking at 35 degrees in our destination, Afghanistan. If you look out your windows, you will see quite a lot of sand. I am currently flying the plane, and I want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”
The trip, which lasted from Feb. 25 to March 2, was designed to boost the morale of troops stationed overseas but one comment from a soldier highlighted on what the trip was really about.
“A soldier thanked me for coming over and ‘bringing some of home’ to him and his fellow soldiers,” Manning wrote. “That told me we were doing a good deed for these special men and women.”
Read the rest of Manning’s USO tour on ESPN.