NCAA Football Lifts Morale For Doctors, Wounded Troops
(December 10, 2009)
Cunningham and Matt Howard stand next to Trauma
Bay No. 1, named in honor of the University of
Alabama Dec. 12, 2009 at the Craig Joint Theater
Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Many
NCAA teams, especially those from the
Southeastern Conference sent memorabilia to the
Craig Joint Theater Hospital to brighten the
spirits of the wounded servicemembers and staff.
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia
||BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (12/4/2009 -
Two Air Force doctors brought spirit to
the Craig Joint Theater Hospital here with help
from NCAA football program officials.
The hospital is a first-rate facility, but it
just needed some personality, said Capt. Matt
Howard a native of Camden, Ark. native.
"Everything was black and white," said Captain
Howard, a University of Arkansas football fan.
"It just needed something more. What better than
The University of Florida was one of the first
Southeastern Conference teams to come forward.
"I often use the military as an example with our
football team and student-athletes," said Urban
Meyer, the University of Florida head coach .
"They are an example and should be an example
for all because of their unselfish dedication to
operate as a unit and a team. They have an
unwavering commitment to
their values and respect the goals and
objectives of the unit. I am forever grateful
for what they do to protect our freedom and our
The Craig Joint Theater Hospital is the largest trauma
hospital in the region.|
Working more than 300 traumas, often with 90-hour work
weeks, these doctors see the stresses of war firsthand and
being able "to look up and think for a brief second about
the game allows me to collect my senses and continue," said
Capt. Frank Cunningham, a Mobile, Ala. native and avid
University of Alabama football fan.
"Seeing the teams all represented here raises the morale of
the medical staff and the American patients," Captain Howard
said. "We see so many traumas, and guys in here are hurt; it
can give you a break when you look death in the eyes every
Many NCAA teams have contacted the hospital offering their
support including: the universities of Alabama, Arkansas,
Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana State, Mississippi,
Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Texas. The U.S. Air Force
Academy, U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy
also sent items for a "Service Academy Room."
To thank the universities who donated items, bed spaces in
the trauma ward were unofficially redesignated from a number
to a university's football team.
Some items donated include a signed lithograph from the head
coaches of Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer,
as well as their Heisman-Trophy quarterback, Tim Tebow. A
signed football from Mack Brown and Colt McCoy's entire
University of Texas team is encased in glass high above a
bed. There is also a caricature of a large Georgia Bulldog
signed by head coach Mark Richt.
The University of Florida recently organized an effort
enlisting the support of three Jacksonville, Fla. elementary
schools and 2,500 children to write letters to deployed
troops. The school's College of Dentistry also organized a
donation drive to send toothpaste, toothbrushes and other
"I'd like the schools, coaches, players and students to know
that we appreciate their support," Captain Cunningham said.
"Knowing Americans back home care for us and our mission
allows us to work (save lives)."
By USAF Capt. David Faggard
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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