New England Patriots cheerleaders visit patriots in Iraq

Story and photos by Pfc. Lisa A. Cope
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION BASRA, Iraq — Five of the New England Patriots cheerleaders spent Thanksgiving Day with the Soldiers at Contingency Operating Location Basra, Iraq.

Tracy Sormanti, the director and choreographer of the New England Patriots cheerleaders, said they came to boost morale and show support for the troops in Iraq.

Sormanti, a Putnam, Conn., native, said the holidays can be a difficult time for deployed service members, and she could not think of a better time to come over and show her support.

“We were invited awhile back, and there is not a better time of year for us to come and support the troops than during the holidays,” she said. “We know that the troops do so much for our country all year long and this is probably the time that they miss their families the most. It is a really small sacrifice for us to be away from our families for 10 days, when they are away from their families for a year or more at a time.”

Sormanti said she is no stranger to spending time overseas. This was the Patriots fourth military tour this year, and they have spent Thanksgiving with service members five out of the last six years.

“We try to do at least two (visits) a year, and this year our schedule worked out that we got invited four times and we were able to accept all four visits,” she said. “We are really lucky when we get these opportunities. Everyone says thank you to us for coming. We say thank you for the invitation and we meet so many incredible, amazing people.”

Spc. Gabriel B. Dauber, the yard manager with the 601st Movement Control Team out of Santa Fe, N.M., met the cheerleaders during their visit to COL Basra.

“I think it is a really good … morale (booster) for everybody, especially on Thanksgiving, for them to take the time out of their day to come out here and visit us,” said Dauber, an Albuquerque, N.M., native.

Sormanti said more visits are being planned for 2010, so the Patriots can continue to show their support for deployed Soldiers.

“We are really lucky,” she said. “We get to wear the red, white and blue and support the three time super bowl champions, the New England Patriots. We are on the sidelines at the exciting football games every Sunday, doing these great things that Americans get the chance to do. We are doing these great things because of all these people who are here today, in places like Iraq. People … who are giving up the wonderful amenities that we have at home. Here we are, cheering for the Patriots, but it is because of the true patriots … that we get to do those great things.”


news photo
Two of the visiting New England Patriots cheerleaders pose for a picture with Soldiers after siting down for a traditional Thanksgiving meal Nov. 26, at dining facility two at Contingency Operating Location Basra, Iraq.
(U.S. Army photo by: Pfc. Lisa A. Cope)