USO, NFL honor fallen Soldier|
by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
12/17/2004 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- The stars came out in the afternoon here Dec. 16 to honor a fallen Soldier. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Pat Tillman United Service Organizations Center featured military, sports and Hollywood icons.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; John Elway, National Football League legend and Super Bowl champion; and Ed Powell, USO president, joined Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson, Combined Joint Task Force-76 commander, to officially dedicate the facility in memory of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.
The naming of the 2,300 square-foot building honors Specialist Tillman, the former NFL star who left professional football to serve as an Army Ranger. After serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was killed in April 2004 in the Khost Province during a firefight with insurgents.
“This is going to be a very important and popular place,” General Olson said. “’What made Pat Tillman a hero wasn’t the fact that he died for his country, it was that he was willing to die for his country’,” quoted the general from an article about the Soldier by (sports writer) John Feinstein. … “That’s what makes you all heroes too.”
General Myers said the new facility is a symbol of deployed troops’ dedication to mission success and to the partnerships formed with the people of Afghanistan. He thanked the NFL for its $250,000 contribution to help build the new facility. The general also praised the USO for “following the military wherever it goes” and for managing the facility when it opens in early February.
On behalf of the National Football League, John Elway shared his thoughts on the sacrifices of those who serve.
“Knowing the opportunities the NFL offers … it had to be a huge deal for Pat to walk away, to come here and to join forces with you all. In my mind, he’s a hero and to me, you are all heroes because you’re working your tails off so we can continue living the lives we do in the USA,” Mr. Elway said.
Also attending the dedication were Sara Farnsworth, USO vice president; Leeann Tweeden, sports show co-host and model; Robin Williams, comedian and Oscar-winning actor; and Blake Clark, actor and comedian.
U.S. Army engineers, designers and Afghan construction crews are working around the clock to complete the two-story structure in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.
Upon completion, the center will inlcude a 36-person television room with a 42-inch plasma TV, a kitchen area, an Internet café, a 10-person Xbox gaming center, a 41-person coffee bar, a morale-call area and a small shoppette.
The craftsman mission-style interior, featuring vaulted ceilings and rooms of various colors and geometric shapes designed to give customers a homey feel, said the project officer Army Capt. Jason Holstead of the 416th Engineering Command Facility Engineering Team.
The exterior resembles a ranch-style home with stone facades, dark wooden siding and exposed beams. The design includes a 3,000-square-foot porch.
“The USO requested that the center has a comfortable coffee house feel to it,” Captain Holstead said. “I believe this place is going to be the hottest spot on all of Bagram.”