Nationals Pitcher Stammen Meets, Praises Overseas Troops
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2012 There aren't many people who would volunteer to go to a war zone thousands of miles away from the safety of home to visit strangers during the holiday season.
Craig Stammen, far right, a right-handed starting and relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals baseball team, talks to a joint group of U.S. troops as his teammate, pitcher Ross Detwiler, and Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks look on, during a USO show at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 14, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Yet each year the USO enlists accomplished actors, musicians, sports figures and other celebrities who want to give something back to the million-plus Americans serving in the U.S. military.
Craig Stammen, a right-handed starting and relief pitcher for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals franchise is one such person, willing to venture into the unknown for the sake of giving back, as he eagerly joined Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on this year's annual USO holiday tour.
“Coming over here we didn't know what to expect,” Stammen said. “You guys make us feel really good about coming over here. We don't consider ourselves celebrities but you guys treat us like [we are].”
Stammen was candid when asked about his motivation for leaving his fiancée to travel overseas and meet service members, Defense Department civilians and their families.
“Well, for me, it's just [about] meeting all the troops, meeting my fellow Americans,” he said. “Meeting guys that are almost exactly like me except they’re in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force [or] the Marines.”
Of course, not many people can throw 91 to 94 mph fastballs, like Stammen, a North Star, Ohio, native, can.
“It's kind of neat to interact, hear things about where we're from … and chat about it, like home,” he said.
Stammen expressed his appreciation to the troops as he took the stage to share his story.
“We appreciate everything that you do. You guys inspire me to keep doing what I'm doing, and to appreciate what I'm doing back at home even more,” he said.
“I'll be thinking about you guys as long as I live,” Stammen added.