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Popping out of the driver's seat of a light armored vehicle, Laura Jenkins, 23, a cheerleader with the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad, learns about the LAV from Marines with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, during a visit at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, June 6. The Poughkeepsie, N.Y., native, along with four other cheerleaders from the squad, visited the troops to show their appreciation for the work and sacrifice they've made.

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

Cheerleaders give LAR a glimpse of home

6 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

Unexpected visitors greeted an infantry battalion of Marines, sailors and other residents here June 6.

The service members gathered around the Morale Welfare and Recreation Center aboard Camp Korean Village, Iraq, to see what the fuss was about. Little did they know that five Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders had just come to visit them.

“We came out here to say thank you for all the amazing things you have done out here,” said Laura Jenkins, a cheerleader with the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad to the crowd of service members. “It was mentioned that there was going to be a tour, and they chose the five of us because we really wanted to be here and meet you guys.”

The visit was part of a tour around Iraq for the ladies to meet and greet service members fighting in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the event, the cheerleaders took pictures with Marines and sailors, signed autographs and thanking the service members for their service to the nation.

“It was great motivation that they came out here to see us,” said Lance Cpl. Will B. Lowe, a journal clerk with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5. “They really have great hearts to come see us. It says a lot about their character.”

While the visitors were greeting service members, the Marines with 2nd LAR showed them the light-armored vehicle, their means of transportations for the past three months. The cheerleaders sat in the driver’s seat and the turret to experience the LAV’s environment.

“The best part was meeting everyone and hearing about their lives out here and back home,” said Jenkins, 23. “Moving so far away from their families and doing what you they do is very admirable.”

The women visited the service members here for only a short time, but left the service members with their morale and spirits lifted.

“It’s really cool to know how much we’re cared about,” said Lowe, 20, from Cleveland.  “For somebody like them to actually take the time out and travel so far away from home to visit us means a lot. I really enjoyed them being here.”

“It significantly boosted morale,” said Master Sgt. James B. Cuneo, 38, operations chief, 2nd LAR, from Florahome, Fla. “They were very kind and thankful for our services.”

The service members here will continue their efforts engaging in operations in support of OIF. The cheerleaders have walked away from this with a new spin on life.

“I really appreciate everything they do,” said Jenkins. “I’ve never appreciated it as much until I came here to visit the service members.”