Coaches Tour 2009 Begins

May 28, 2009

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel and several other college head coaches will be traveling to the Middle East to meet U.S. troops as part of Coaches Tour 2009.

UCLA football office intern David Raih is also on the tour and sends this update (written Wednesday night, May 27).

We depart tomorrow morning at 11:00 am and head to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to pick up Coach Neuheisel, Coach Brown and Coach Nutt. I've been at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas for the last 5 days preparing for . Our tour is being led by an Air Force Crew and one Marine. We will travel to six countries in the next seven days.

Countries and corresponding bases:
Germany - Ramstein
Turkey - Incirlik
Iraq - Ballad
Iraq - Camp Victory
Kuwait - Ali Al Salem
Djibouti - Djibouti
Spain - Rota

Sponsors of the tour:
Mike Whalen (New York native)
-1970 Notre Dame graduate and booster
-Avid military philanthropist, great supporter of Armed Forces Entertainment

Tom Lee (New York native)
- President of Morale Entertainment and Zodiak Aerospace
- Aerospace Engineer and only person to be on the inaugural flight of the 747 and A-380
- He invented: Aeropac - on flight trash compactor; Enviropac - on flight recycle compactor; Vacuum Toilet; Aeroseating - cockpit, 1st class seats and luxury seating

These are great men with unprecedented enthusiasm for our U.S. military.

Our Aircraft:
KC - 135 Tanker
'Kerosene Cargo' 135 - It is a refueling aircraft that carries 190,000 lbs. of fuel and is capable of giving and receiving fuel to and from other aircrafts in mid-flight. We are part of the cargo on this aircraft. It is not built for passengers. As a result, we have installed seats that are mounted on pallets in the base of the aircraft.

Our pilots:
I have been more than impressed with the professionalism of the young people who are commanding the mission.

Mission Commander / Major Lucas Jobe
-32 yrs. old
-Oklahoma native

Mission Asst. Commander / Major Michael Morman
-32 yrs. old
-Illinois native

Our Coaches:
Rick Neuheisel - UCLA
Jim Tressel - OHIO STATE
Mack Brown - TEXAS
Houston Nutt - OLE MISS
Tommy Tubervile - Former AUBURN

McConnell Air Force Base has been buzzing since we arrived and it couldn't have been a better place to spend my Memorial Day. For the last five days, I have worked with the entire flight crew from 6:30 am until dinner time preparing for our trip.

My responsibilities have been:
Packing - 14,000 t-shirts from all universities into A-3 bags (large undertaking)
Shopping - snacks, supplies, paper products, power strips, beverages, tape, etc.
Intercom System - setting up a portable system for inter-flight communication
Cell Phones - activating 20 Sprint Blackberry's for free phone calls home for all troops
Bios - Compiling all crew and coaches bios into a book for everyone on flight to read

Wrapping Up:
Last night we had a big party at one of the hangers with the 'Nitty Gritty Dirt Band' concert.

Tonight we were fitted for our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) - bullet proof vests and helmets to be worn on the ground.

I fully comprehend this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and couldn't feel more humbled to have the opportunity. I look forward to sharing the coming experiences with the young men I'll work for the duration of my career. The men and women that are protecting our country deserve to have their story told.

I'll be in touch.

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