Hey Redskins Nation! This is Taryn checking in from our 53rd Military Appreciation Tour. Being a third year Washington Redskins Cheerleader, and this being my third tour with the military, I feel privileged and honored to be a part of this morale lifting experience.
Our last stop before returning to Washington, D.C., is Puerto Rico!
Day 1: We touched down in San Juan at 12 a.m., on Sunday morning. We stayed in the barracks at United States Coast Guard Sector San Juan, right outside of Old San Juan. Our MWR representative, Quentin, was very thoughtful. He brought us fruit even though it was 2 a.m., by the time we got to our rooms. How did Quentin know we love healthy snacks?
When we woke up, we had a delicious brunch at a local spot called Blonda. Coincidentally, we ran into a couple of Redskins fans that recently moved to San Juan, which was pretty sweet! Once we were done eating our amazing meal, we traveled to Rio Bayamon to get ready for our first show. As we were getting ready, we were able to watch the second and third quarters of the Redskins/Giants game. There was definitely a lot of loud cheering, until we had to perform for the families of the USCG.
Our show was at the community center pool, which was the perfect spot for the event, as the families could watch the show, while cooling off at the same time. Before the show was completed, we found out our guys were able to pull off a big win in New Jersey: HTTR! To share what we do on game days, we sang and danced to the fight song to celebrate our huge victory. Fortunately Captain Warren, who is the Commanding Chief of USCGS San Juan, is a true Washington Redskins fan. We felt right at home seeing him and his family dressed in their Burgundy and Gold!
The meet-and-greet we had immediately following the show was slightly different than the ones we've had on previous tours with our soldiers; there were so many children and spouses of servicemen and servicewomen! It felt like a huge family, and they welcomed us with open arms. I was so impressed by all the children, and the fortitude of the spouses gave me a newfound appreciation for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis.
After the meet-and-greet, Capt. Warren invited the team over for refreshments and to hang out in a Redskins friendly zone! I want to personally thank his wife and sons for being such kind and loving hosts, and opening up their home to all 12 of us! Here's a fun fact I found out about Capt. Warren: when he was stationed in Washington, D.C., we lived in the same neighborhood. What a small world!
Our final stop for the evening brought us to the Chief's Mess back at USCG Sector San Juan. The conversations were fun, and we were able to convince a couple of our new friends to go salsa dancing with us that night. It was all for a great cause too, as we celebrated Jade J's birthday. Feliz Cumpleaños, Jade J!
Day 2: On Monday, we woke up and got ready to leave San Juan. We headed to the west coast of P.R., to visit more troops and their families. After a brief breakfast in Old San Juan, we packed the van and traveled over to Aguadilla City, Puerto Rico. Once we were told about the serene beaches, and relaxing nature of the west coast, I couldn't wait.
After the three-hour drive to Air Station Borinquen, we ate lunch and said goodbye to our east coast hosts, and met our new liaisons, John and Meagan. We settled into our new residence, and got ready for yoga and practice. We walked into the community center, and there was a children's dance class coming to an end, so of course we had to let loose with the children on the dance floor!
I had the privilege of leading a stretch yoga-dance class for the soldiers and their families that evening. At that moment, I felt so grateful to be where I was, not only because I led the dance class, but because we had a breathtaking ocean backdrop and a beautiful view of the sun as it set. Once the class was over, our co-captains, Lee and Jade J., led us in practice so we'd be ready for the Cleveland Browns. As you can see, the WRC takes pride in its game-day readiness!
Day 3: Tuesday morning was an eventful one for sure. After a tasty breakfast at Levain bakery, we drove to Isabela for some horseback riding. Tropical Trails Rides was my favorite downtime moment. I partnered up with Tyena the mare, who was as lively as she was poised. There were so many beautiful sights to behold, as we rode from the ranch, to the oceanfront and through the forest.
After a safe return, we quickly changed and headed over to the hanger to meet a few Coast Guard servicemen and servicewomen. Upon our arrival, Officer Omar showed us some MH-65 and HC-144 helicopters that they use on search and rescue missions. We also ran into Commanding Master Chief Ked Marcotte, and he promised that he would be at our show later on in the day.
After lunch, we returned to the community center for sound check and a short rehearsal in our new space. The show that evening was so much fun, and the crowd was similar to the previous show we put on for the families. We even had the children get up on stage and dance with us! Believe me when I say there was more than enough entertainment that night!
When the show was over, we had dinner with the soldiers and their families that we met earlier in the day. The food was delicious, and we were even able to experience a little bit of the nightlife in Aguadilla City. The music and dancing spoke to my soul!
Day 4: We got an early start to the day, as we had to drive back to the airport in San Juan to catch our flight home. In reflecting back on our trip, I couldn't be more appreciative for the experiences that I've been rewarded with. I want to thank GEICO Military, Armed Forces Entertainment and the Washington Redskins for providing us the opportunity to uplift the spirits of our troops. To be able to bring comfort to our country's servicemen and servicewomen is an opportunity few will truly know. It's been sincerely life enriching for me each and every time I get to spend some quality time with our soldiers. Hail to the Redskins!
Thank you to Armed Forces Entertainment for sending the ladies and GEICO Military for sponsoring the tour.