"Thank you for what you are doing. We appreciate what you are doing. It is an honor for us to be here."

Those were the words of Mark Murphy, president of the Green Bay Packers National Football League team, when he addressed about 180 Soldiers at Multipurpose Urban Training Site (MUTS) North and also 105 cadets at the Wisconsin Army National Guard ChalleNGe Academy at Fort McCoy.

Murphy and three players, defensive back Nick Collins, wide receiver Jordy Nelson and linebacker Brady Poppinga, visited Fort McCoy as part of their "Touching Down in Your Community" Tailgate Tour.

The football quartet scored a lot of points with the 17- and 18-year-old cadets during a brief question-and-answer session, and each cadet got to shake hands with each Packer on the way out of the academy assembly hall after the program.

"It was really cool," academy cadet Alexa Jolin said after the visit. "It was a great experience that they came and spent some time with us and told us things to help us."

"They told us about thinking positive, about how we can learn from our mistakes and to keep pushing forward," Jolin said.

Murphy told the cadets, "Work hard, get a good education, communicate well, respect other people, don't be intolerant and find a job you like and are passionate about."

Collins said, "Have an open mind and open heart, do not have a temper, take time to be with friends, meditate and reflect on your situations and don't let anybody limit you. Go out and grab onto your life, and hold it and run with it."

Poppinga said, "Have an open mind, know about any situation you are in, don't be ignorant, believe in yourself, work hard to get a good job, and take a breath."

All four congratulated the cadets on their working hard at their schooling at the academy. "It took a lot of effort and thought for you to come here, to take this step, to do the right thing," Nelson said. "Focus on your education and give that more of an effort. It is an honor for us to visit you here."

At MUTS North, the Packers watched close up as Soldiers from the 447th Military Police, from Ohio, and 387th Postal, from Missouri, conducted a simulated assault on a small village where cultural role players and opposing forces were firing on the Soldiers.

Soldiers "returned" fire and performed a route clearance tactic. That was, of course, using blank ammunition. Regional Training Center-North instructors used artillery simulators and smoke grenades to enhance the scenario.

Each member of the Packer quartet then individually addressed the formation of Soldiers, expressing their thanks and appreciation for the Soldiers' service and for their upcoming overseas tour of duty.

Then it was picture time, as the Green Bay quartet posed with various groups of Soldiers for keepsake memories.

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)