Cheerleaders bring holiday cheer to Osan

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Burks
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Members of the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleader team visited here Dec. 29 as part of their 72nd USO tour.

During their visit, the cheerleaders had lunch with Airmen, held a free cheer clinic for kids, performed at the base theater, signed autographs and posed for photos with members here.

Senior Airman Travis Paecht, of the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron, said having lunch with the cheerleaders was a great experience.

"It was definitely a morale boost," he said. "It's tough being away from family every holiday, but the cheerleaders were really nice, and they were appreciative of everything we're doing out here."

While Cowboys cheerleaders have been visiting Soldiers and Airmen here for decades through the USO tours, the cheer clinics are a relatively recent addition, designed to support the growing number of family members here.

As tour normalization initiatives brought more families to the peninsula, the Cowboys cheerleaders, working with USO officials, began holding the cheer clinics during tours here just a few years ago. As more dependents arrived, the level of support grew.

Katie Chargualaf, an Osan Air Base family member, said her daughter loved meeting the cheerleaders.

"They worked really well with the kids," she said. "It was very nice of them to take time away from their families during the holidays to spend time with ours."

Meredith Oden, a fourth-year Cowboys cheerleader making her first visit to South Korea, offered advice for cheer clinic participants who aspire to, one day, join the ranks of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

"If you work hard and put the effort into it, it's something you can achieve," she said. "Just keep dancing and put your heart into it.

"A lot of people are amazed that not all of us are from Texas, and not all of us are fully-trained dancers from the age of 3," Ms. Oden said.

"Everyone has a different background, but we like to call ourselves a big bouquet," she said. "Every person is a different type of flower. Everyone has their own background, and that's when we come together, that's what makes us the squad that we are." 

Ms. Oden's mother is a former Cowboys cheerleader who participated in USO tours, and even performed at Osan AB in the 1980s.

"Watching the cheerleaders growing up, it was something we really aspired to do," Ms. Oden said.

"Every time, watching them dance, each performance seemed more phenomenal," she said. "We're excited to get to do that tonight, and we hope we inspire a couple little ones."