Deployed Louisiana Soldiers receive ‘saintsational’ visit

Photos and story by Sgt. Tresa Allemang and Spc. Amy Barber
256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — The New Orleans Saints’ cheerleading and dance team, the Saintsations, special guests of Operation Catch Fish, provided a taste of home to the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) April 27 at Victory Base Complex, Iraq.

Erin Buxton, a Houma, La., native, and Jennifer Thomas, a Slidell, La., native, dancers with the Saintsations, dressed in Army physical fitness uniforms and exercised with Soldiers, doing push-ups, crunches and flutter kicks. Buxton and Thomas, joined by Soldiers with the 256th, ended the morning with a two-mile run.

“They were very energetic and excited about doing PT with the troops,” said Sgt. Rebecca A. Farmer, a fuel database processor with the 256th IBCT and a Hineston, La., native.

“They had no issues hitting the dirt like the rest of us,” she said. “In fact, I think they handled it better than some of the Soldiers did. It was good to see how genuine they were about bringing up the morale.”

After incorporating themselves into one of the morning exercise routines, Buxton and Thomas spoke of the camaraderie of the group during their morning workout.

“Everyone was so supportive of each other,” Thomas said. “They were constantly encouraging each other, and checking on each other during the run. If one person would have stopped, everyone would have. We all started and ended the run together, and that was great.”

Along with conducting physical training with the Soldiers, Buxton and Thomas toured Iraq, visiting as many service members as time would allow.

This was both dancers’ first trip to Iraq. They expressed their appreciation for deployed Soldiers and the sacrifices they make.

“This tour was a huge learning experience for me,” Buxton said. “I have a newfound love and respect for people in the military. I feel like I just got here, and I’m not ready to leave.”

Thomas said she was inspired and humbled by her visit with the Soldiers.

“This has been a life-changing experience,” Thomas said. “Everyone kept thanking us for coming, but we don’t deserve the ‘thank you.’ These guys do. Every time I heard it, I wanted to say it back a million times more.”

 

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New Orleans Saints cheerleaders and dancers, Jennifer Thomas and Erin Buxton, join Soldiers with Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) April 27 for physical training at Camp Victory, Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang, 199th Garrison Command Public Affairs)

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New Orleans Saints cheerleaders and dancers, Jennifer Thomas and Erin Buxton (left), begin a two-mile run April 27 with Soldiers from Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at Camp Victory, Iraq.(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang, 199th Garrison Command Public Affairs)