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Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders arrive at Camp Al Qa'im, Iraq, on a CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter to sign autographs and meet the Marines and sailors of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, June 6. The cheerleaders volunteered to go out and show support for deployed troops by putting on performances and visiting bases in Kuwait and Iraq.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Eagles send in the troops

6 Jun 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Dust and debris filled the air as a CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter approached the landing pad with gunners manning their weapons on the port and starboard sides of the helicopter. The rear platform dropped and a team quickly disembarked, ready to continue its mission. 

The team wasn’t made up of Marines, however, it was five cheerleaders with the Philadelphia Eagles on a tour to visit deployed service members in Kuwait and Iraq.

The cheerleaders’ quest to get into country and visit deployed troops was not an easy one and took almost two years to accomplish. They finally got their wish and headed to Kuwait on June 1. They stopped at a few bases along the way and arrived here June 6, where the “Warlords” of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, reside.

“An e-mail was sent out to all the (National Football League) teams,” said Eagles’ cheerleader Nikki Bell. “We absolutely wanted to do this. The five of us begged to go, because we wanted to do it two years ago, but couldn’t for security reasons.”

Service members lined up out the door of the Morale Welfare and Recreation center for nearly three hours to get autographed photos and have their pictures taken with them.

“The girls knew there would be a good response to their visit, but it has really been an overwhelming one,” said Brian Lee, the cheerleaders’ tour manager.

The ladies and their manager have had the chance to experience different aspects of the Corps, including using military helicopters for transport and learning about certain weapons systems.

“It’s an awesome experience for us,” Bell said.

Aircrafts aren’t the only pieces of Marine Corps culture the cheerleaders got to partake in. They have had to live, sleep and eat in the same conditions as the Marines they visit.

“Living conditions and the food turned out to be much better than expected,” Lee said. “We’ve been treated very well since we got here.”

Only three hours after their arrival, the girls finished up their autographs, said their goodbyes and were off to the landing pad, ready to board a helicopter and fly to another base.