News: NFL cheerleaders pep up Marine team in Afghanistan
Story by Lance Cpl. John Hitesman
NIMRUZ PROVINCE, Afghanistan — With bright white smiles and cheery attitudes, five of the St. Louis Rams cheerleaders visited Forward Operating Base Delaram here recently to put on a show and help boost the morale of the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
The cheerleaders arrived by helicopter at 9:30 a.m. and were greeted by Lt. Col. Patrick J. Cashman, 2/3's battalion commander, Sgt. Maj. Jason E. Patrick, the battalion sergeant major, and Gunnery Sgt. Joshua T. Laverty, Headquarters and Service Co. gunnery sergeant.
Although the ladies were there to entertain, the Marines of 2/3 decided to do some entertaining of their own by putting on a couple of demonstrations for them and giving them a tour of the base.
Laverty was in charge of their security and showing them around along with making sure they had everything they needed while on site.
"They seemed very excited to be here and to do the things we had planned for them," said Laverty. "They were also extremely receptive to everything we told them about, and they were filled with questions. The whole day was definitely a refreshing change of pace."
While being shown around the base the cheerleaders talked and took pictures with Marines they met. They also gave out posters they had autographed.
"It really shows their character — being willing to come out here and do what they do," added Laverty. "I'm really thankful for their generosity. What they do really helps boost morale."
They were shown the mortar pits and given an exhibition on the unit's adopted weapon system, the 120mm mortar, normally organic to the Army. During the exhibition of the 120mm system the cheerleaders had their photos taken with the mortarmen while holding some of the 120 mm rounds.
Weapons Co. scout snipers gave the cheerleaders a chance to look out over the city of Delaram through high powered rifle scopes and try on a Marine combat load — to give them an idea of the amount of weight Marines carry on their body when they are standing post or outside the wire.
Before breaking for lunch, the cheerleaders were introduced to the Improvised Explosive Device sniffing dogs. Charlie, the dog, and her handler Sgt. Andrew T. Ustaszewski showed them.
"This was all very amazing, and we got to see a lot of cool stuff," said Marybeth, a five-year Rams cheerleader. "This experience really gave me a new appreciation for what the Marines do."
The cheerleaders started their hour-long show promptly at 3 p.m. in their Rams' cheerleading uniforms. Part of the show was a question and answer portion where the Marines competed for calendars. Marines also earned prizes in the best "touchdown dance" competition.
"I really loved the opportunity to come out here and see what you guys do and how you live," added Marybeth, who is also a registered nurse. "Coming out here is an honor for us and we really support everything that our military does."
"This was awesome!" said Megan, the cheerleaders' captain. "I came out last year, and I by far think that this was a much better experience.