By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterOctober 19, 2011
The outer loop of Interstate 495 was not the only place where rubbernecking took place on Oct. 11.
Double takes combined with admiring glances were a part of a Tuesday lunch-time crowd when Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, stopped by to meet and greet servicemembers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's USO Honor Guard Lounge inside the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Community Center.
The second youngest woman to be named Miss America, the blonde, brown-eyed Scanlan has logged close to 120,000 miles-worth of visits during her reign, but her mid-week miles were reserved for Washington, D.C., servicemembers.
"Being here and meeting with our troops really makes you remember what they are doing every single day for us," Scanlan said. "The whole reason I am doing what I've been doing this year is because of what they are doing. America wouldn't be what it is [without the troops], and I wouldn't have the freedoms and abilities I have without everything they are doing."
As she enters the last quarter of her time as Miss America, Scanlan has visited a handful of military installations and the Pentagon, but she noted that many Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen do admire her from afar -- at least at the start of an appearance.
"You might see them stay against the walls and 10 feet away from me," she said with some confused laughter. "They kind of stay far away, but after awhile, we can sit down and talk."
Or get an autograph or pose for a picture, which she did time after time with male servicemembers and a female Army officer.
"This is wonderful," said HQ Command Bn. Casualty Operations Officer Maj. Priscilla Smalls. "I never thought I'd meet a Miss America."
Many surprised servicemembers, expecting to stop in the community center for a game of pool or some television viewing, got a view of Scanlan's winning Nebraska smile and a brief conversation with Miss America.
"This is pretty awesome; this doesn't happen every day," Air Force Honor Guard member Aaron Estrelle said of his meeting with Scanlan.
During her autograph and picture session with the troops, Navy Seaman Trevur Byers requested that Scanlan sign her name inside his cap.
"That's a first for me," said Scanlan who has just about seen everything during the past nine months.
The current Miss America's future plans are to start attending school at a Washington, D.C. area college this year, and to acquire a job or internship on Capitol Hill. Her future endeavors include politics and running for office.
Miss America's visit to JBM-HH was sponsored by USO of Metropolitan Washington.