Photo Information

Denver Bronco cheerleaders perform on the stage of the base theater July 20, at Al Asad, Iraq. The cheerleaders traveled to bases throughout Iraq and Kuwait to entertain deployed service members.

Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen

Bronco cheerleaders visit Al Asad, raise morale of deployed service members

27 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

Professional cheerleaders from the National Football League performed a two-and-a-half-hour routine at the base theater at Al Asad July 20.

The Denver Bronco cheerleaders visited several bases throughout the country to show their appreciation to the military.

According to Kari L. Gratz, tour manager for the cheerleaders, the girls really wanted to show their gratitude to the brave men and women that serve in the armed forces.

"We have been trying to get out to Iraq since last year," said Gratz. "Last year we went to Afghanistan. They said Iraq was too dangerous. So we keep asking, and this year they finally OK'd it."

The 12 cheerleaders and manager visited numerous bases throughout the country.

"We have been to Al Taqaddum, Fallujah, Baghdad," said Brianne Bateman, cheerleader for the Denver Broncos. "We have also been to a lot of the smaller camps."

When it came to deciding which cheerleaders would get to go to Iraq, a problem arose.

"After we were finally cleared to go to Iraq, we found out that we were able to take 12 girls, but all 36 of the cheerleaders wanted to go," said Gratz. "It was a lot of work to narrow down the list and decide on the final 12. I feel we have a great group out here with us."

According to Gratz, the cheerleaders practiced twice a week for months prior to coming out here.

"We have been practicing a lot and working harder," said Bateman. "We wanted to make sure that we gave everyone out here the best show possible."

The routine was full of comedy and dance routines. It was not your average show, according to Gratz.

"For the show, we had two hosts and 10 costume changes," said Gratz. "It's an awesome show with a lot of audience participation."

"We had between 15 and 20 dances," said Bateman. "We brought the crowd on stage and got them involved. The two hosts were also there to entertain the crowd while we were doing costume changes."

According to Bateman, the trip shows them a lot of what service members go through.

"We came out here expecting things to be bad, but everyone out here has it worse that we thought," she stated. "We have been here for nearly two weeks, and I miss so many things from back home. I could not imagine being here for an extended period of time. Everyone out here is my hero."

In addition to the time spent performing on stage, the group toured the base and had time to sit down and talk with military members.

"I really enjoyed the time at the chow halls," said Bateman. "I got to see and talk to the people that I came out to support. I really enjoyed hearing their stories and getting to know them. There are so many amazing people out here I wish I could meet them all. I hope I get the chance to come back and do this all over again."