By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Direct from the U.S. nation’s capitol, eight members of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders paid a visit to Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Nov. 26, on Forward Operating Base Hammer.
The visit began with a tour of FOB Hammer. The cheerleaders, Chastity King, Tonya Helman, Abby Dymond, Anabel Dela Cerna, Tequia Hicks, Tiffany Mattingly, Heather Tran, and Jamilla Keene, visited battalion operations centers.
After the tour, the cheerleaders ate dinner with selected Soldiers in the FOB Hammer dining facility. While dining, members walked around the room shaking hands with Soldiers during a brief exchange of “thank you’s.”
“Doing tours like this and talking to the Soldiers really gives me a sense of comfort knowing we are building morale for them,” King said. “It also educates us because we can see firsthand what is going on in Iraq rather than what the media puts out.”
After dinner, the cheerleaders put on a show at the FOB Hammer stage. Their performance consisted of a variety of songs and dances.
“We try to appeal to everyone’s taste,” King said. The eight cheerleaders who volunteered to make the Thanksgiving tour in Iraq formed the most diverse group the squad has fielded, explained King.
“We have dark hair, blond hair, red hair, Jewish, Asian, African American. All men like different things,” King said.
According to Pfc. Steven Fleck, from Warner Robins, Ga., Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, the show was a success.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It really brought up our morale. It was great seeing something from home.”
Capt. Nancy Preston, from El Paso, Texas, engineer for the 3rd BCT agreed with Fleck.
“It was extremely entertaining,” she said. Preston explained her favorite part of the show was when Helman held a moment of silence for all of the fallen heroes. The cheerleader later explained her husband, whom she had met during one of their tours overseas, was just recently killed in combat.
“People say they support the troops but you don’t really know how deep their devotion is until you hear a story like that,” Preston said. “I think it’s great that Tonya still continues to support us by coming out here despite her loss.”
When the show was over, the cheerleaders were awarded a certificate of appreciation from Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd BCT and 3rd BCT Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson. To end their visit, the cheerleaders signed autographs and posed for pictures with the Soldiers.
The 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom V since March.