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Elway tosses footballs to troops

12/14/2004

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq -- About 1,000 soldiers at this sprawling
western Baghdad base took a break Tuesday from the war's day-to-day
grind to be entertained by comedian Robin Williams, former NFL
quarterback John Elway, and sportscaster and model Leeann Tweeden.

The three stars landed in Baghdad along with Gen. Richard Myers,
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in military helicopters
for a visit to boost troop morale during the holiday season.

The VIPs were greeted with deafening cheers from soldiers
representing units including the 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort
Hood, Texas, the 256th Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard, and
the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum,
N.Y.

"I know we in America wouldn't have the life we have if it
wasn't for people like you," said Tweeden, who visited Baghdad
last year with Williams for a pre-Christmas event organized by the
United Service Organizations.

Former Denver Broncos great Elway said he thought twice about
making the Baghdad trip, considering the worsening security
situation.

"But once my kids told me that it'd be a great idea, I knew it
was the right thing," he said before showing off his trademark
quarterback skills by tossing several balls into a crowd of
clambering soldiers.

"I'm not funny, I'm not pretty, but I can sure throw a ball,"
he said.

Williams was gang-tackled into autographing dozens of photos of
himself, posing for pictures and displaying his rapid-fire humor.

The USO is a nonprofit charity organization established before
World War II to boost morale, provide welfare and deliver
recreational services for American troops.