Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz is in the Middle East this week, part of an NFL-USO Tour, along with Matt Millen and Merrill Hoge. The former Bengals great is filing a running diary of the trip for NFL.com and bengals.com.
Greetings from Qatar! I am so excited and humbled to be on the NFL tour of the Middle East to support our troops. When we left the States it was Monday and when we arrived it was Tuesday night after a 14-hour flight -- lost a whole day with the time change!
While we're on this tour, we get to see what our troops do to protect our freedom. And they do so much every day. Once we got settled in, we had breakfast with Colonel Kubinek from the U.S. Air Force and took a tour of a B-1 bomber. I was able to climb upstairs, but I couldn't quite squeeze into the cockpit. I guess we can scratch 'pilot' off my list of second careers! I did sign a bomb that was loaded onto the plane, though.
We also got to talk with a crew that had just landed after a 13-hour tour. What they do during their tours is so impressive, and they are all so humble about it. They say it's just part of their job, but it's really so much more.
Later, we had lunch in the mess hall where there was plenty of food and we sat with the troops and got to talk with them about their experiences. A little bit later the base set up a meet and greet in an outdoor tent area for an hour, and we took pictures and signed autographs for our men and women in uniform. What a thrill to be able to chat with them!
After that we traveled to an area called "Ordnances and Bombs" -- where they make the bombs. We watched the crew assemble one and got to sign that one, too. We saw all of the assembled bombs lined up and learned how they are stored. This is important behind-the-scenes work that we don't always think of, but it's just as vital as the front line troops.
Once we had dinner, we had another meet and greet for an hour at the outdoor tent facility for photos and autographs. The great thing from today -- I got to meet fans from Lexington, KY, Dayton, OH and, of course, Cincinnati -- Kings High and West High, to be specific. The not-so-great thing: most people are either Steelers, Raiders or Cowboys fans! (I've got to work on that while I'm here.)
Tomorrow we are leaving at 5 a.m. to travel to a new base. Looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends, and I'll tell you all about it in my next blog. See you then!