4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 1st Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING PALIWODA, Iraq – Six World Wrestling Entertainment superstars visited Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Paliwoda.
The 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers out of Fort Riley, Kan, got to meet and take pictures with the Bella Twins, Vince McMahon, Ray Mysterio, R-Truth and John Cena.
“The WWE has been sponsoring its Tribute to the Troops tour since 2003, in conjunction with Armed Forces Entertainment,” said Cena, who has been a constant on the three-day tour since it began.
“We meet as many men and women of the armed forces as we can and on our final day we actually build an arena from scratch and film a WWE television show on site.”
During their visit to FOB Paliwoda, the WWE wrestlers fired various weapons, ate lunch with Soldiers inside the “Black Lions” Dining Facility and then headed to the unit’s conference room where they signed autographs, handed out t-shirts and posed for pictures.
“It was great to see John Cena, the twins and Vince McMahon, I’ve always wanted to see him,” said Spc. Christoffer Hagen, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-28 Inf. “It was [good] … because we don’t get this very often. It’s good to get all of the t-shirts, pictures and autographs. [Then] John Cena gave us a coin, which was cool.”
“It’s great to have the stars come out here and support the troops.”
For one wrestling fan, meeting the WWE superstars was a “dream come true.”
“It was exhilarating just seeing [them],” said Sgt. Alex Auston, a Soldier with the 16th Sustainment Brigade out of Bamberg, Germany. “It was just a dream come true. I can’t ask for anything more. I would say my life is complete, but I’ve never been to an event, this is the closest I’ve ever been to a wrestling event; so, it was really nice that they could take time out of their busy days and come out here … just to spend with us.”
After signing autographs and posing for pictures, the WWE superstars participated in a “Black Lion” re-enlistment and promotion ceremony.
To close the visit, the superstars along with the commander of 1-28 Inf., Lt. Col. Eric Timmerman struck the infamous “Black Lion” pose.
“This trip means the world to me,” said Cena. “I have the utmost respect for the men and women who defend the freedom of [our] great nation and words can’t describe it.
“I would like to thank everybody in uniform who defend the flag that I live under. Our freedoms are something that I certainly don’t take for granted, and I know it’s because the men and women in the armed forces that I get to enjoy being a proud American.”
By Spc. Shantelle J. Campbell