News: WWE Tribute to the Troops visits NECC
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kay Savarese
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Superstars, Divas and Legends from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) visited Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) forces Dec. 6 and 7 as part of the 10th Annual WWE Tribute to the Troops.
The Superstars, Divas and Legends traveled to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story and Portsmouth, Va., to view dynamic displays by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians and Coastal Riverine Force (CORIVFOR) Sailors.
The performers included: WWE Superstars Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Hornswoggle, Ted DiBiase, Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Zack Ryder; WWE Divas Alicia Fox, Aksana, AJ Lee, Eve; and WWE Legend Mick Foley, who brought with him his daughter, Noelle.
Sailors assigned to EOD Group 2 provided up-armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to transport the WWE performers as they demonstrated an air insertion scenario, fast-roping down from an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter. The Superstars and Divas then toured an indigenous village used for training and observed operations at the demolition range.
“As a huge fan of the WWE, it was great to see the wrestlers come out and show their support to the military,” said Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Rob Carraco, assigned to EOD Group 2.
“It was a great experience to have the WWE players visit,” said Lt. j.g. Evan Berenholtz, a Sailor assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28. “It means a lot to all of us service members that they support us and are interested in what we do.”
The tour of capabilities continued at the EOD Training and Evaluation Unit, where WWE performers were able to view a Navy dive tank before meeting with service members and signing autographs.
“Before I joined the Navy, I wanted to be a professional wrestler,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Michael Diamond, assigned to EOD Group 2. “I put that part of my life behind me once I joined, but often wonder what it would be like if I had stayed in the game. It was an amazing opportunity meeting the wrestlers, and especially the divas, but most importantly just getting to know the people behind the personas.”
WWE performers had the opportunity to experience CORIVFOR capabilities the following day in Portsmouth, Va. Coastal Riverine Squadron (CORIVRON) 4 and Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3 invited the Superstars and Divas aboard two 34-foot Dauntless Class Patrol Boats, a Riverine Assault Boat (RAB) and a Riverine Patrol Boat (RPB) to conduct a series of maneuvers.
“It is great to know that we are all appreciated for what we do by the people that we see on television,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jessie Brown, event safety officer for the CORIVRON 4 visit. “It shows our men and women of the armed forces that what we do day-in and day-out is seen by many. Thank you WWE for your support.”
Once back on land, the performers took some time to sign autographs and speak with the sailors.
“It was a great opportunity for our Sailors to meet with the people they see on TV,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tim Andros, command diving officer for EOD Expeditionary Support Unit (ESU) 2. “You often have a preconceived notion of what ‘celebrities’ will be like before you meet them. It was refreshing how down-to-earth and supportive of the military they were.”
The WWE Tribute to the Troops recognizes America’s servicemen and women by bringing its talent and entertainment to military installations worldwide. In addition to NECC forces, the Superstars and Divas visited other Navy installations in the Hampton Roads area.
“Had such a fun time at #tributetothetroops!,” WWE Diva, Eve, tweeted. “It was an honor to spend the weekend with the men and women that serve our great nation.”
The WWE Tribute to the Troops, 10th Anniversary Holiday Extravaganza is scheduled to air on the USA Network at 9 p.m. EST, Dec. 19, and the NBC Network at 9 p.m. EST, Dec. 22.
NECC provides rapid deployable and agile expeditionary forces in support of maritime security operations around the globe.