INDIANAPOLIS – Colts quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen is in the final stages of a six-day tour across the globe where he is visiting service personnel as the guest of Admiral James Winnefeld, the ninth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Christensen met Admiral Winnefeld a few years back at an event in Indianapolis, and the two share a desire to help find employment opportunities for returning service people.
Admiral Winnefeld, a huge Colts fan, invited Christensen to join him in visiting military personnel, and they, along with Peyton Manning and Austin Collie, are on the final stages of a six-day visit that will take them to Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, among other locations.
Christensen, Manning and Collie anticipated the chance to mingle with those who defend our country. Christensen also planned to seek out Colts fans as well on the trip.
He has found a few Colts fans far away from their home areas, and Christensen has checked in twice this week via email with his adventures:
WEDNESDAY, 11:49 a.m. (ET)
Checking in from the Horn of Africa. We're just leaving our base in Djibouti where we spent the afternoon with the troops there. We had dinner (pizza nite in Djibouti) with some Hoosiers. Quite a few Colts fans in Djibouti! We visited multiple bases in Spain and Italy on our way.
It has been a remarkable trip and as usual, the people are the story. Our soldiers are unbelievable. From Walter Reed Hospital to Djibouti, they are unselfish, self-sacrificing, proud, focused and hard-working. I've been touched (convicted would probably be more like it) and inspired by our men and women and their attitudes. It is teamwork at its best!
It's hard to believe that Sunday I was at the combine and as I write, I am over the Arabian Sea. I've about worn out Admiral Winnefeld with questions. What a true leader he is. I'm exhausted and exhilarated.
THURSDAY, 11:46 p.m. (ET)
The weather has been mild and pleasant. It will be cooler as we head into Afghanistan.
We left from Andrews Air Force base then stopped in Rota, Spain, then to Sigonella, Italy for a base visit before flying to Naples for the night. From there we went to Djibouti and the base there. Up to Abu Dhabi where we visited the base there. We flew a COD (carry on delivery) where we flew onto the USS Stennis, which is in the gulf off Iran's coast.
It's unbelievable to land on the deck at 140 mph and catch the cable which stops you. On leaving, they catapult our plane off the deck. Quite a rush. The aircraft carrier is 1,100-feet long and had 5,000 sailors aboard.
We were sending off and receiving F-18s every 45 seconds as they do their work and practice. It's quite a sight to watch those planes and the operation involved. No room for error. Great teamwork! Was shocked how young most people are – basically 19- and 20-year olds. I had lunch with three 19-year old young sailors. They had been at sea for 16 of the last 19 months. They work 18-hour days. "Wow" is all I can say.
They can strip down and rebuild everything on board. We were escorted by a couple destroyers on the flanks. Quite the day. As usual, it's about the people. Our technology is unbelievable, but our people are the best. Everywhere I've been, the work, attitude and resolve jumps out at you. I've learned much from our troops!
As I speak, we are headed into Afghanistan on a C-17 and watching Peyton throwing balls to the crew. Admiral Winnefeld's hands are impressive (we have about 40 yards on this plane). The Admiral just ran a nice curl route. If our country didn't need him so bad we might could use him in Indy!