Second-year Washington Redskins cheerleader Jackie shares her experiences during the 53rd Military Appreciation Tour, presented by GEICO Military.
Hey there Redskins fans, Jackie here! This is my second year as a Washington Redskins Cheerleader, but this is my very first Military Appreciation Tour, and can I say it has already been a life changing experience.
Being an avid world traveler, having been to 18 countries, I’ve made it a life goal to visit as many countries as possible in my lifetime. When we were told what countries we would be visiting on this tour, I was completely taken aback by the fact that I have never even heard of our first stop: Curaçao!
Curaçao is a small Dutch Caribbean Island that’s north of the coast of Venezuela. Being a completely new country for me made the anticipation and excitement for our arrival that much greater.
Day One: After traveling nearly 12 hours, we were greeted at the Curaçao airport by several servicemen. Before even stepping off the airplane, we were so happy to be in such a beautiful country with nice company.
We drove straight to the Air Force Base for a briefing from Officer Glaze on the rules and regulations, as well as what to expect for the next couple of days in Curaçao. Once the briefing was over, we went to our hotel, Holiday Beach. Despite being exhausted from travel, we caught our second wind after seeing the beautiful clear water and all the tropical glory! We ended the night at a nice local spot, Pirates Bay, where we dined as a team with the servicemen right on the beach. What a great first day!
Day Two: We woke up bright and early at 5 a.m., and headed straight to the base and led an hour-long workout for the servicemen and women. Boy, they didn’t realize what they were in store for once we arrived! After about 20 minutes, most of them were complaining. It was great. :)
After the workout, we headed to the FOL (Forward Operating Location) for a tour, which was led by Colonel McGowen. It was interesting to see all of the moving parts in a fully functioning base. We were educated on the different weapons they used, as well as security and surveillance.
My favorite part of the tour was going to the mailroom, because the soldiers said this is where they take breaks and revive their morale. Reviewing packages and letters from loved ones keeps them going and gives them a little piece of home.
Our final stop landed us at the infamous Kokomo Beach. We ended the day with a meet-and-greet and practice for the big show!
Day Three: Our day started with another early workout in the hanger. We decided to teach the servicemen and women a few of our WRC moves, and we ended the workout with a signature First Ladies kick line!
After the workout, we headed over to the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard. They’re in charge of patrols, search and rescues and protecting fisheries. We were so excited to go on an AW-139 helicopter and a Dash 8 MPA aircraft.
Following the workout, we headed next door to the Fire Department, where we tried on gear, rode in the fire trucks and even got to spray the hose! After the firehouse tour, we went to Mambo Beach for a nice relaxing lunch and some free time on the beach with some of the servicemen and women.
Once our free time was over, it was time to get ready for the show, which was amazing! Being able to perform in front of people, who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country, was an honor in itself. Having the servicemen and women, who have become more like family, cheering us on is a memory that I will always cherish. We also had the pleasure to meet the Consolate General, Maraharet Hawthorne.
Day Four: Our final day in Curaçao! We wanted to end the trip on an epic note, so we woke up early and headed to Playa Forti to snorkel and swim with sea turtles!
As I sit in the Curaçao airport, getting ready to board the plane to Puerto Rico, I can't help but think about how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity, not only because I’m able to represent my team and my city, but also being able to recognize what a positive impact that we’ve had on the servicemen and women in just a short few days. Being able to bring a little piece of home to them was far more fulfilling than I could’ve ever imagined.
Thank you for following me during my fantastic week and stay tuned for Taryn’s blog from Puerto Rico!