Coach Berenato's Trip for the Troops: Day 8
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Today was a blast. I walked to a Starbucks on the base. We are in a desert, literally, and it is so sandy and full of stones. All the buildings look alike so of course I got confused. Every building is sand colored and all vehicles are sand color but I did get my large coffee, not even close to my French coffee but it was good. I tried to return some emails, do laundry, and read the Stars and Stripes, the American Military Newspaper.
9:30 was pick up for a meeting with the fighter jets. Our host, Jim drove us until we met our entourage of Air Force personal. Most informative was Colonel Tim or T-Bone as he is called. he was too cool. He explained the B-1 Bombers and told some great stories. All these folks just have a passion for their job. These jets cost around $283 million and our country is better off because of them. T-Bones personality made you feel comfortable and that is a good thing. I went up to see the inside and view where the four pilots sit. It was about 110 degrees outside but in the cockpit, add another 20 degrees, at least. Billy was my partner and we both just stared at the confined space one has to sit in for hours at a time on a mission. These jets can fly about 850-900 miles an hour and take off at 150 mph. Most times missions are 9 hours each. We had the great fortune of watching a B-1 take off, again thank goodness for ear plugs. I was the only coach to get out of the van and watch.
Coach Berenato's Trip for the Troops: Day 6
Coach Berenato's Trip for the Troops: Day 5
Coach Berenato's Trip for the Troops: Day 4
Coach Berenato's Day 4
Coach Berenato's Day 3
Coach Berenato's Day Two
Coach Berenato's Day One
Pitt's Berenato to visit U.S. troops overseas
A highlight for the base was a planned basketball game and another Meet and Greet for the troops. The game was Navy (I coached) against Air Force (Mike from JS coached) while Duggar, Orlando and Billy floated. Before the game we did a question and answer session and took a group photo. You could feel the excitement in the gym and there was a great turnout of men and women. These solders were so happy to have visitors from home and asked a ton of questions. It was rewarding to say the least. At lunch, we sat with the director of the fitness, food and housing department and she spoke of the game and how excited everyone was. She said the four divisions of military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) are extremely competitive with each other. They will be a team and work side by side, but when it comes to winning and losing, watch out. She also said the #1 injury they see on this base is Basketball related!!! I found that hard to believe.
The game started and Air Force jumped out to 8-2 lead. We settled down and I quickly realized these huge men (I did not have any women on my team) are just like every other baller. They want to shoot the three, don't want to rebound and love to argue with the refs. At half it was a 2 point game favor Air Force. The gym was hot and floor slippery but the energy was evident. With 6:27 to go one of the fellows from Air Force went down with a serious knee injury. He had to be taken off on a stretcher but he was smiling the entire time. The coaches suggested we stop the game, (it was pretty competitive and the refs were calling it less than a free for all) but the teams would have none of that. One man on my team, The Professor as he was called, said: "Coach we don't ever quit!" The game continued. With 6 seconds to go, we were down by 3 points and we inbounded, pushed the ball up the court and shot. Good!! No time left on the clock, Overtime. Yes, we were all high fiving and the one ref (must have been in Air Force) ruled it was a 2 and the game was over!!! Much fun was had by all. Autographs and photos were taken and we all made new friends.
As we were leaving, MSG Richard Powell of the Army Special Operations came up to me and asked if I knew Kirk Bruce. I said yes. He told me he had a sister that was pretty good at Basketball and I said: "I know Jennifer, and she was THE BEST." He continued to tell me Coach Bruce coached him in High School (Clairton '84). I told him about Shayla Scott, Coach Bruce's niece and he said he would watch for us in the future. Small world just got smaller!!!
After dinner in the dining hall, the coaches all got together and talked. We are amazed at this experience and again thankful for our troops. We have lots of funny stories and great memories of our trip here but
There is no place like Pitt.
First Published August 19, 2009 5:22 pm