LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany (Nov. 30, 2007) - A taped football game between the Patriots and Eagles took on the semblance of a TV reality show Nov. 29 for Army Specialist Robert Hammond.
While watching the game at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Hammond was interrupted when a group of New England Patriot cheerleaders appeared suddenly at his bedside. For the next five minutes, the injured Soldier became a victim of holiday cheer by the Patriot pom-pom squad and singers Melina Leon and Jamie O'Neal.
Cheerleader Stacey McIntyre said she never grows tired of providing such a surprise even after two previous Operation Season's Greetings trips overseas and downrange.
"I love it. I love every bit of it, but Germany is my favorite stop because of coming here to the hospital," said McIntyre, who met her husband Master Sgt. Carl Nixon, an Air Force Reserve recruiter, during a previous similar tour through Japan. The smile of a single face is more special, she said, than performing before seven home games at Gillette Stadium and its 70,000 fans.
The feeling of meeting servicemembers such as Hammond is difficult to describe, but McIntyre said she recounts the experience "over and over again" at the dinner table back home.
Such encounters also remain strongly personal for O'Neal, a country singer and songwriter making her second trip, which included stops at military installations in Turkey, Iraq and England.
"This is one of the most moving experiences of my life ... it's life changing," said O'Neal after performing before an enthusiastic audience packed into the hospital dining facility. "We give only such a small amount back."