By 2nd Lt. Jeff Orban, 3rd Heavy Bde. Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJuly 15, 2009
MOSUL, Iraq -- The syndicated national U.S. sports talk show, Sports Byline, was broadcast from the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Marez, Iraq, on July 14. The radio broadcast involved key leaders from Multi-National Division-North, as well as four Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
The Soldiers were able to speak with such sports legends as former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and U.S. Senator Steve Largent and current University of Southern California head football coach Pete Carroll.
The San Francisco-based Sports Byline radio has been broadcasting for 20 years and has 2.2 million listeners each week, according to their website. The program was started by radio talk show host Ron Barr, who is on his fifth trip to a combat zone to entertain the troops.
"I grew up in a military family so I have an affinity with the service men and service women," said Barr.
The four Greywolf soldiers all had competitive sports backgrounds. Capt. Josh Holden, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, Civil Military Operations Officer, played both football and baseball at West Point, and went on to play minor league baseball for the Cincinnati Reds organization.
2nd Lt. Charlie Rockwood, a Field Artillery officer with Headquarters Troop, 1st Cavalry Division, was a starting linebacker at West Point for three seasons.
Sgt. Patrick Miller, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, was a college wrestler and football player. He is currently the mixed martial arts heavyweight champion for a Texas regional circuit.
Pfc. Damien Conard, of Alpha Distribution Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, played linebacker for the University of Missouri football team.
Barr has sincerely enjoyed all his "deployments," saying "I get to see them as
people who made a commitment and to watch them put together a team effort and the loyalty and the execution. It's something very, very special and amazing. "
Barr appreciated having soldier-athletes on his broadcast team. "Some of these people could be pretty good sportscasters if they wanted to be," said Barr. Because the soldiers were sports veterans they 'didn't ask the coach whether the ball was inflated or stuffed' Barr said with a laugh.
Having the chance to talk to sports stars was something Soldiers were very excited about.
"Talking to Steve Largent, was pretty unbelievable, something I didn't think I would be doing at a DFAC here in northern Iraq," said Rockwood.
Also attending the broadcast was Multi-National Division-North Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, who spoke with famous ABC sportscaster Al Michaels. Also interviewed was Brig. Gen. Robert Brown, deputy commanding general, 25th Infantry Division. Brown, a former West Point basketball player, spoke with his former coach, now Duke legend, Mike Krzyzewski.
"I thought it was great, for them to come here and do it for us, I think they did a great job, it was good to just get your mind off what we're doing," said Miller.