It's Charo checking in here from the Middle East, just wrapping up the second stop of our four country Military Appreciation tour. We just left Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and I don't think I'm too happy about it - I want to go back!
We arrived at the Al Dhafra Air Base (ADAB) Wednesday afternoon and were greeted by a steam room sauna of heat. The temperature was around 120 degrees with the heat index - the immediate humidity you felt upon arrival was so different than the dry heat of Kuwait. You haven't lived until you've withstood heat like this!
The base at which we were staying is actually an Emirati military base, though the US has had a presence there since the '90s. The 3,500 troops that are stationed there are amassed mostly of Air Force and Army, and I don't think the population could have been any more welcoming or energetic. We checked into our tents and had a couple hours of relaxation before our show. After dinner, performing our dances, a push-up contest, a "Dougie" contest, and lots of photo ops (for the best audience... ever), we commingled with the airmen and soldiers and even got to hang by the pool on base before heading to sleep.
The next day, Thursday, was a whirlwind of just plain awesome. After a brief meeting with the commander, we were met by the Security Force on base and saw their Humvees and K-9 military dogs. We then went to the other side of base to get a tour of the Patriot missiles and other types of ammunition and weapons for which the military is responsible. After a southern style lunch at Windy's, we were given a tour of the flight line by the fighter pilots (big thank you to the 391st Fighter Squadron - Bold Tigers). One of the coolest parts of the day was riding in a chase car for the U-2 aircraft - zipping down an active runway to aid with its landing. My dad was also a pilot in the Air Force so meeting all of these active fighter and recon pilots was extremely special for me.
That night we were also able to be special guests at the ADAB Bi-Monthly Awards Ceremony and received a coin from the General! Our trip ended simply by hanging out with and getting to know the troops. Susan and I even participated in some good old Cornhole and Mila played some hoops.
After that incredible experience at ADAB, I don't think I'm able to put into words how lucky I feel - not only to live freely in America thanks to these selfless men and women - but that I was given the unique opportunity to visit them overseas and attempt to bring a smile or fresh face. We must always let them know that we are thinking of them.
I have an abundance of gratitude and appreciation for our military, the soldiers and airmen of ADAB, and of course, Tommy Good Deals for that unforgettable Top Gun serenade. Cheers to what lies ahead in Oman and Qatar!
Love & Hail,