Denver Broncos Cheerleaders Brielle and McKenna visited military members at Air Force bases in South Korea as part of ProTour trips.
**I know people always say "Words can't express …" but no words do justice for the gratitude I have for my time in South Korea. Growing up as a daughter of a fighter pilot based out of Buckley Air Force Base here in Colorado, I lived for the days I could go out to base with my dad. My brother and I would sneak into the simulator room and pretend we were as cool as Dad, mastering our crash landings and probably pressing entirely too many buttons in there. I remember my mom always telling me to put my earplugs in when we were on the runway, but I never wanted to because the roar of the jet engine was worth not being able to hear for the rest of the day — not to mention going home smelling like jet fuel and asking her not to wash my clothes because I loved that smell more than laundry detergent. As a military member's daughter, I saw firsthand the sacrifices my dad made being away from us at times, but we understood wholeheartedly why: because of his love for this country, and his great pride for what he did. I saw this same love and pride in many of the soldiers I met in South Korea…
We had a few days to explore Seoul, but my greatest memories come from my time spent out at Osan Air Base. Excited that I was assigned to an Air Force base, I was eager to meet our soldiers and get a glimpse into the lives of those who were serving what felt like worlds away. The base was like nothing I had seen before, with everything from an elementary school to a high school on it, to even a small car dealership and Chili's restaurant! I spoke to many who had brought their families and had been there for years, but for the majority, it was a one- to two-year stop before being assigned to their next base. My favorite part of this trip was being able to watch the Super Bowl with our service members, learning about what each and every person did, how long they have served and, of course, talking a little football. I found a few Broncos fans along the way, but the part of the day that warmed my heart the most was delivering coffee and donuts to those who were at the guard stations and unable to watch "the big game." It was a day off for everyone else (Super Bowl kickoff was on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. here), and this small gesture seemed to make their day and brought a smile to their face. For every hand I shook, I kept hearing "Thanks so much for being here" or "We really appreciate you coming all the way out to Osan," and each time I replied, "No, thank you for your service, I are honored to be here." I finished up my time there with a fitting trip to the hangar where I got to sit in the very same make of plane that my dad flew, the F-16. Now that was what they call "the icing on the cake."
The memories I have and the full heart that I came home with can never be taken away from me, and I pray that I brought just a little bit of home and joy to those who were at Osan Air Base. I thank each and every person in uniform for the sacrifices they make for us at home. Your selflessness does not go unnoticed. We live in the Land of the Free, because of the Brave, and I wake up each and every day thankful to those who serve.
- DBC Brielle
Something we feel very passionate about with the Denver Broncos is our military. This year was special in particular because the Broncos selected the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders to represent the organization as the nominee for the NFL's Salute to Service award. I have a family full of military men and women and had only dreamed of having the opportunity to do a military tour. It is so surreal to me that I spent four days in South Korea, of all places in the world, doing just that. I cannot thank ProTour Productions and Armed Forces Entertainment enough for organizing these incredible and humbling tours.
I traveled to Kunsan Air Base, which is three hours outside of Seoul. Here, I had the chance to meet, interact with and thank Air Force men and women on the base. The lifestyle at Kunsan is very unique compared to most bases. The servicemen and women have very short assignments there. It is a smaller base where the main mode of transportation is by foot or bike. With a few minor exceptions, there are no families living on base, so it creates a very tight-knit family between them. They all use call signs, so I felt like I was in "Top Gun." They have this camaraderie that is irreplaceable and obvious. I felt so welcomed by the men and women at Kunsan, and for that I am forever grateful.
I knew I would be impacted on this trip but the moment that really hit me was on the very last day. We were being given a tour of one of the hangars on base by some of the pilots and mechanics. They were showing us the F-16s and let us get inside and check them out. We were full of questions and so intrigued by their job. After saying our goodbyes to them, I received a message that I will cherish forever, because it showed that we accomplished the thing we set out to do, which was to show our love and support for the men and women serving our country. The pilot wanted to thank us for being so interested in their work and for coming out to see them, because they had never met NFL athletes or cheerleaders before and we really "made the whole thing worth it for [them]." I was shocked that the people I was so thankful for were thanking me.
To be able to shake hands and thank our military for their service and sacrifices was life changing. Thank you again to ProTour Production and Armed Forces Entertainment for everything you do and the irreplaceable memories you have created.
Thank you to the men and women who serve our country.
- DBC McKenna