Cincinnati Reds CEO Gives Military Members 'Two Thumbs Up'
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2004 When the Cincinnati Reds' chief executive officer returned earlier this week to Forward Operating Base Eagle in Tuzla, Bosnia- Herzegovina, following a foot patrol through a local town, he presented the Indiana National Guard troops there with an unusual gift: the promise of tickets to a Reds game when they return home from their deployments.
John Allen, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Reds,
right, hands out his card and a promise of free tickets to a Reds game to
soldiers of the Indiana National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 152nd Mechanized
Infantry, following a foot patrol near Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, June 9. Photo
by Tech. Sgt. Michael Buytas, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"It seemed like the right thing to do," John Allen said of his gesture. "Hopefully they can come and bring their families and see a game on me." Then, with a laugh, he added, "They can buy the beer."
Allen, a participant in the 2004 Joint Civilian Orientation Course, traveled with about 50 other leaders in business, education, publishing and local politics this week to see military operations firsthand and meet the men and women who carry them out.
Acknowledging that early June is one of his busiest times of the year, Allen didn't let that get in the way of getting a close-up-and-personal look at soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in today's armed forces.
Allen said he grew up in a patriotic family and volunteered for duty in Vietnam. He was medically evacuated from the theater with a severe wound to his right hand, but said he's always maintained his pride in the U.S. military.
When agents for some of his players who had been on previous Joint Civilian Orientation Conference trips recommended that Allen might also want to go, his interest was piqued.
"Ever since Sept. 11 (2001), everyone has been keenly aware of our military," he said. Allen said he wasn't convinced he was getting the whole story about the military from the media, so he wanted to check things out for himself.
What he found, he said, was "phenomenal." The men and women in uniform he met "are extremely competent and they love their country," he said. "They're overwhelming."
Allen said he looks forward to returning to Cincinnati to share his impressions with the community. "It's going to be a great message to tell when I go back," he said.