Ross & Craig’s USO Tour – Taking Off
Earlier this offseason, General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – invited Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen on the annual USO holiday tour. While abroad, Detwiler and Stammen have sent us daily journal entries detailing the events of their trip. In the interest of security, these updates – including dates and locations – are delayed several days before their release.
From: Craig Stammen | Dec 11, 2012
We arrived in D.C. at 8:30 a.m. after being in Las Vegas, NV less than 24 hours earlier. The USO hooked it up with a drive to pick us up and a suite just for the afternoon at the Ritz. Upon arrival, I worked out at Nationals Park and then proceeded to do several interviews about the upcoming tour. It was actually pretty fun to tell the media that we had no idea what, when, or how we were going to get to our destinations. It was also an odd feeling to not know exactly where we were going to go. But soon enough, we would find out!
Next stop was back to the Ritz to prepare our bags for our travel to Andrews Air Force Base where we would be flying out of the country on the Blues and Whites! Pretty darn exciting to be on a plane of that stature. This was definitely going to be an unforgettable experience getting to do some things most civilians do not get to do.
We took off from Andrews right around 7:30 p.m. The General made sure to come back to the plane where we were sitting to start some small talk to and get us acclimated to traveling with him and his traveling party. It would be a 6.5-hour trip to Shannon, Ireland. This was ample time to get to know the rest of the USO “talent,” as we’ve been dubbed. Matt Hendricks, Iliza Shlesinger and Kellie Pickler along with my teammate and good friend Ross Detwiler.
Dec 12, 2012
We arrived in Ireland around 6 a.m. local time. According to the Chairman’s staff, this was a good chance to hit the Irish Pub inside the airport. We had about an hour and a half to kill as the plane refueled. I was informed by my fiancé to take advantage of every new country I visited. I had never been outside of North America until now. For people from my hometown, being 28 and having never left the country was not uncommon, and I definitely felt like the least experienced traveler on this flight! So I saddled up to the pub and got my self a freshly baked scone and a nice, cold Guinness. Surprisingly, both went down smoothly. Now, back on the plane.
Six and a half restless hours later and we were in Bahrain, right in the center of the Middle East. I had no idea what to expect. My initial thoughts were that we were going to a very poor country where I’d probably have to sleep in a bed way too small for me! However, I was greatly surprised. We arrived at the Gulf Hotel in downtown Bahrain. My room was amazing – definitely Five-Star! I am easily satisfied, but this place was extremely nice.
Next on our agenda was a dinner with General Dempsey and his wife. They chose a Thai restaurant inside the hotel. I’m not a big fan of Thai, mainly because I’ve only had it, maybe, twice! Time to expand my horizons – and it turned out to be a great dinner. The general and his wife were awesome. We later retreated to the hotel pub. At this point I was dog tired, but the conversation I was able to have with the chairman, his wife, and Detwiler was worth any sleep deprivation. We talked about what to expect on the tour and what the troops expected from us. Not much, except our thanks and time, according to the General. The conversation moved more personal and the advice General Dempsey gave me and Ross will stay with us for forever! We didn’t talk about how to be a better baseball player, but we chatted about our future, our goals, and how we were raised. Very cool, and I tried to soak it all in.