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Coaches tour hospital
Mack Brown, head football coach at Texas University, visits with Henry Bautista at a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. The hospital was one of the first stops for Coaches Tour 2009, a morale-boosting mission that brings NCAA football coaches to U.S. servicemembers and their families. Bautista served 10 years in Army intelligence without any major injuries before he became a civilian field representative for an armored vehicle contractor. He was flown to Germany from Iraq after his leg was severely injured by a mishap with one of the vehicles. The Coaches Tour is organized by Morale Entertainment, LLC., in association with Armed Forces Entertainment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Schaap)
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NCAA coaches visit troops in hospital

Posted 6/1/2009   Updated 6/1/2009 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Jason Schaap
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

6/1/2009 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Henry Bautista wasn't one of the U.S. servicemembers seven NCAA football coaches visited at a U.S. military hospital in Germany Friday.

That's because servicemembers are not the only ones risking their lives in dangerous places like Iraq. That's where Bautista, a field representative for a light armored vehicle contractor, was three days prior when a vehicle mishap almost severed his leg.

The doctors at the hospital pieced his ankle back together but his tibia is still broken. He needs more surgery.

Meanwhile, his family is back in Roy, Washington, on the other side of the world. Confinement to a military hospital bed can make home feel so far away.

That's where Coaches Tour 2009 comes in. It's a morale-boosting mission that brings NCAA coaches to U.S. servicemembers. For men and women serving overseas, the tour doesn't just bring them icons of college football. It brings them a little piece of home.

"It lifts your spirits," Bautista said after four coaches--Mack Brown of Texas, Rick Neuheisel of UCLA, Houston Nutt of Ole Miss, and Coach Emeritus Tommy Tuberville--stopped to see him. "They have other things they could be doing other than visiting me."

Three more coaches--Troy Calhoun of Air Force, Jim Grobe of Wake Forest, and Jim Tressel of Ohio State--came in a little later. They first talked to the Army Airborne soldier who lay in a bed opposite Bautista, also with a bad leg wound.

"I've been parachuting all over the world for 23 years," the soldier (whose name was not for release) said.

"Twenty-three years?" Coach Tressel responded.

The young-looking soldier looked like his 23rd birthday could have been a recent memory.

"I'm 45 years old," he told them. "I take care of myself."

The three coaches looked at each other in amazement.

Before they left, they said what they all came to say on Coaches Tour: thank you for what you do for your country.

Then they told him to get better, to get back to parachuting.

"No," he said, vaguely looking at his heavily bandaged leg. "I'm done jumping."

The coaches were next scheduled to visit troops in Turkey, then Iraq. The Coaches Tour is organized by Morale Entertainment, LLC., in association with Armed Forces Entertainment.

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