By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public AffairsNovember 25, 2011
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Nov. 25, 2011) -- Fox Sports broadcasted from the American military headquarters post here in South Korea during their Thanksgiving Day coverage of the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game.
More than 6,000 miles from where the game was played on Detroit's Ford Field and 14 hours ahead of its Eastern Time kick off, U.S. troops, civilians and families gathered at the R&R Bar & Grill on the cold November night to celebrate the American tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving.
They watched the Green Bay Packers remain undefeated by beating the Detroit Lions, 31-14.
The broadcast followed a week of coverage by the sports channel. NFL Analyst Jay Glazer, UFC Fighter Benson Henderson and NASCAR Analyst Jeff Hammond met with Soldiers from one end of the Korean Peninsula to the other.
It was the first time Glazer, Henderson or Hammond had visited Korea.
They went to Camp Carroll, a U.S. Army logistical hub near Daegu; Camp Casey, a U.S. 2nd Infantry Division post in Dongducheon; and the Joint Security Area; the only place where American forces serve inside the 155-mile-long Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Henderson and Glazer, who also trains professional athletes in Mixed Martial Arts, held a MMA clinic on Camp Carroll where they demonstrated tried-and-true moves developed in the ring to Soldiers practicing hand-to-hand combat techniques designed for the battlefield.
Henderson, who has a lightweight Ultimate Fight Club record of 17-2-0, said he was thrilled to visit the birthplace of Tae Kwon Do. Henderson has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and practices Muay Thai and wrestling.
The Fox Sports team watched a demonstration by the 2nd Infantry Division's Tae Kwon Do Team at Camp Casey.
"I was very impressed," said Henderson about the 2nd Infantry Division Tae Kwon Do team. "Those boys did some stuff physically that would be impossible for me ever to do."
On Thanksgiving Day, Henderson, Hammond and Glazer ate turkey with the Soldiers who provide security inside the Joint Security Area and toured Conference Row where a 17 and a half inch strip of concrete is all that separates the two Koreas.
For Henderson's Korean-American mother Song Hwa Henderson, the journey to JSA was something of a homecoming. She worked there 30 years ago.
For Hammond, the trip to Korea also had a special meaning. His father served in the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War, flying United Nations Command armistice negotiators back and forth across the 38th parallel.
Hammond said U.S. military units and NASCAR teams share in common bond in their commitment to excellence.
"In our case, the only way we win and succeed is by being flawless," said Hammond, from Charlotte, N.C. "The only way they survive is by being flawless. Their lives depend on what they do and they take exceptional pride in it just like we do in our business.
"Anytime you get the opportunity to see the parallels between our sport and our military, it's pretty awesome," said Hammond, a NASCAR crew chief with 43 wins. "At the same time, I think that's one reason why we share such a respect and admiration for each other."
In spite of the similarities between professional motorsports and the American profession of arms, Hammond acknowledged that no stock car could compete against the 2nd Infantry Division's M1A2 Abrams Tanks.
"[The tank] would win hands down. Even Tony Stewart wouldn't challenge one of those guns," said Hammond.
Earlier on game day during his visit to the JSA, Glazer correctly predicted the outcome of the Detroit-Green Bay game.
However, Glazer said the highlight of the trip was meeting Soldiers who help to defend freedom in South Korea.
"I've got a 9-year-old boy who I think is going to grow up in a safe world because of what you guys are doing out here," said Glazer.