D'Qwell Jackson USO Tour Blog, Part I

Posted Mar 17, 2013

Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson checks in from the annual NFL-USO Tour.

By: D'Qwell Jackson

Hello Browns fans. I am in Day Two of my journey on the 2013 NFL-USO Tour, and it’s been everything I expected.

The trip’s been phenomenal. Just to be on the grounds where it actually happens and to see the young kids that sign up to travel halfway around the world and leave their families for what they stand for, it’s a great testament to their bravery.

I was talking to a lot of the Marines yesterday, and I was speaking to a kid named Joe and he was from Detroit. He was 20 years old and he was on his second tour. He didn’t realize how brave he was. All of the kids, they’re something. You have to be special, and you have to be wired differently to be as brave at such a young age.

After traveling all night and making our first stop, we took another flight. We took a military aircraft with the troops, a C-17. The cool thing about that was I had the chance to sit in with the pilot, the co-pilot and the assistant. I actually got to sit in the cockpit as they took off and see what was going on from a pilot’s standpoint. It was awesome, and the C-17 was one of the aircraft where you could fit two Blackhawk helicopters, but instead of the Blackhawks, there was all of the troops that were on their first tours and second tours. It was a mixture of guys, Marines and Air Force. We had the luxury to sit with them and talk with them and see how they get ready to go into combat. They were all over the place, and just talking to every one of them, the biggest thing when you travel this far away from your comfort zone, from your comfort level, you think about it. I felt comfortable from the start. They have a sense of calmness about them.

Once we headed up to where we were staying, the guys warned us there were rocket launchers with rockets nearby. We’re like, “Rockets? What?” They were so calm and so normal and showed us the proper things to do if we hear a siren.

Without a doubt, I feel like I’ve gotten more from this experience than I’ve given. We’ve had a number of troops come up to us, and especially, the guys that were heading over to Afghanistan. This was a nice change-up for them. They didn’t expect to see a J.J. Watt (Houston Texans defensive lineman) or a Champ Bailey (Denver Broncos defensive back), or any NFL guys to show up right before they go on tour for the next seven months. Just talking to a lot of guys and hearing about the training that they go through, it’s intense. Those guys pick each other up and it’s awesome to see.

I have a lot invested into this trip because I want to see what it’s like. I want to actually see what it’s like to be a soldier, sailor or Marine and what they have to go through, the structure they have. I feel like there are a lot of similarities with what I do for a profession, but it’s on a different plane. One is life and death and the other’s a game.

I’ve only been here two days and I can tell you right now, if anyone has a chance to come over to where it’s 9,000 miles away or go to a military base in the States, I suggest they do it. I didn’t realize the affect that it would have, but just to see a different face that you can talk to, it makes a difference. It really does. They’re well-trained, and it’s about being mentally tough.

I will check back later in the week as I continue on the 2013 NFL-USO Tour to visit our troops overseas.

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