"It lets them know the country is behind them," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Lewis E. Monroe III of the Sixth Air Mobility Wing.
"It lets them know that the players have everything in perspective, that a game is just a game and what really matters are our freedoms.When they come out to say thank you for what you're doing, for standing for their freedoms, it means a whole lot to these young men and women."
...As Chief Monroe explained before they left the original rendezvous point, every person they would meet that day was either in support of or directly involved in the country's war on terrorism.
"We wanted to get out and let these guys know that we appreciate everything they do," said Williams."They've been working hard, long shifts since what happened last September.You never really understand the importance of what these people do until something like this happens, then it really touches home.These guys are out here fighting for our freedom, and you just want to get out here and let them know you really appreciate it."
Among the spots visited by the players were a hangar housing General Franks' plane, a training room for safety equipment for Air Force personnel, a fire station and, of course, Central Command.
was also on hand with his
commanding officer to wrap up the visit.He
wanted the players to leave with a sense of the importance of their visit, and the importance of the daily activities on the base.
"I'd like them to see the teamwork that goes on out here, the dedication of these young men and women," said Monroe
."Whether you realize it or not, they've sworn to give their lives for the freedoms of this country that you and I enjoy every day.That's an awesome thing.
"Sunday, when (the Bucs) strap it up, they'll be (the servicemen and women's) heroes.I just wanted them to realize that they needed to have the same sort of conviction about the outcome of their season as we do about the outcome of this war on terrorism."
Williams, who had first met Monroe
on a similar base visit a few days after last year's terrorist attack, then again when Monroe
and some of the base personnel visited a Buccaneers' practice, appreciated the chief's words, not to mention the delivery.
like Coach Gruden, he
gets you fired up," said Williams with a laugh."I still remember his
speech from last year when we came out here while everything was going on.You could just see the determination not only in his
eyes but in those of a lot of the people working on this base.It's there now, too.You can see that they mean business."