By Maj. Al Hing
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – World Wrestling Entertainment superstars visited Soldiers from Multi-National Division – Baghdad's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division, Dec. 4, at Camp Taji, northwest of Baghdad as part of their 'Tour for the Troops.'
Soldiers immediately gathered around WWE superstars John Cena, Vince McMahon, Rey Mysterio, R. Truth, Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres to extend handshakes, smiles and pose for photos.
For the Soldiers, this was a chance to meet some of the greats of wrestling.
"I've been watching wrestling since I was a kid, and I've always wanted to be like them," said Spc., Michael Johnson, a native of Kingston, Okla., and fire support specialist assigned to 2nd SBCT. "My cousins and I would pull out the mattresses and wrestle, just like them. It's great to meet the guys that you grew up watching, it's great to meet people you looked up to as a kid."
Soldiers went out of their way to express thanks to the wrestlers for coming to Iraq. The 'Tribute to the Troops' tour is for the Soldiers, and the superstars ensured the Soldiers knew this was for them.
"In one word – rewarding," said Cena. "We come for the Soldiers, and being this close to the holidays, this is a boost for our morale, as much as it is for [Soldiers]. This is my fifth visit, and I'm always looking forward to seeing [Soldiers]. It's great to meet positive people doing the things for our country, and they're our 'stars'."
"There's a personal satisfaction to meet the Soldiers, who do this [mission] on a daily basis," said Mysterio. "It puts things in a positive perspective for the things we've got because of the things Soldiers do."
The Soldiers swarmed the superstars. Smiles from Soldiers and the visitors were all that could be seen. Some of the widest smiles came from the divas.
"I'm blessed and honored to be here to meet the Soldiers," said Kelly. "This is truly an honor.
They're the ones we came here to meet; they're the ones who honor us with their [mission] in Iraq." Her fellow diva Eve Torres fully agreed.
"This is my first visit, and it is an absolute honor to be here – to be part of this," said Torres. "It is important to redefine the little things and benefits all of us have because of the sacrifices the Soldiers have given for us. We enjoy many freedoms because of the Soldiers."
McMahon defined his visiting the Soldiers as the high point of what he and the WWE do every year.
"I look forward to this trip more than any other event we do. [Visiting Soldiers] is bigger than Wrestle Mania, we truly appreciate the service they're doing."
From the Soldier's perspective, there was mutual appreciation for the visit.
"This is a great morale booster to have part of America come to Camp Taji. It makes me feel closer to home," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Herzog, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, and 2nd SBCT aviation non-commissioned officer. "They wanted to stay to shake hands, take photos and sign autographs. They're superstars, but they ended up showing us that we're their stars."
This work, World Wrestling Entertainment superstars meet 'real stars', by LTC Allen Hing, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.