Panthers players Mario Addison, Dean Marlowe, Andrew Norwell, Kawann Short and Trai Turner will visit and spend quality time with airmen, soldiers and their families stationed in Germany as part of a week-long USO/NFL tour. An extension of Salute to Service, the group will participate in an array of base activities at Ramstein Air Base (Mar. 6), Vogelweh Air Base (Mar. 7), U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr (Mar. 8-9) and U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart (Mar. 10).
Accompanying the NFL players are Carolina Panthers TopCat Cheerleaders Megan and Chandalae, as well as the USO of North Carolina and USO Europe who helped organize the trip. This is the Panther's first USO tour.
"The Carolina Panthers organization has always been a great supporter of our service members and their families stationed in North Carolina," said John Falkenbury, President and CEO at the USO of North Carolina. "I am honored to be traveling alongside them and helping the USO's long-time partner, the NFL, deliver upon its mission of connecting troops to family, home and country."
Committed to helping connect service members to family, home and country, this month's USO/NFL tour will also feature a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the USO Warrior Center (Mar. 7) as well as the Noncommissioned Officer Academy (Mar. 9), among countless other military units. In addition to unit tours and base demonstrations, the group will visit briefly with high school football teams and special forces units to talk football. Airfare for this trip was made possible by American Airlines, who sponsored all travel.
Last month, the USO and NFL launched their 2017 activations at Super Bowl LI. The League also announced its $5M commitment to the USO over the next three years to support the expansion and refurbishment of USO centers through the Force Behind the Forces: A $7.5M Challenge Campaign, USO center engagements globally, USO programming for military serving in remote locations, as well as the annual iconic USO/NFL tours. The Carolina Panthers USO/NFL tour is part of that commitment. Later this spring, the USO and NFL will deploy another group of NFL players on a tour throughout the Middle East.
The USO and NFL partnership began in 1966, when the NFL became the first sports organization to send players to Vietnam and other parts of the Far East on USO tours to visit service members. Since then, the USO and National Football League have partnered to send renowned NFL sports personalities on annual USO tours around the world.
"USO/NFL tours to Europe play such a vital role in connecting our military and their families with home," said Walt Murren, Regional Vice President of USO Europe. "This week's trip is sure to be a big hit on every installation we visit and it is a real privilege to help take part in the planning and execution of this important tour in coordination with USO of North Carolina and the NFL's great Carolina Panthers."