December 14, 2011
By Sgt. Jessica M. Kuhn, XVIII Airborne Corps PAO
FORT BRAGG, N.C.– For Spc. Ashley Stewart last Friday started like any other Army day. She woke up, went to physical training, got some exercise in, showered, ate a nutritious breakfast, and then she headed into work for another normal day of being a combat medic in the Army.
It wasn’t until a white van pulled into her unit’s work area that her day started to get a little strange. Things got even crazier when the van door opened and World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar John Cena stepped out.
“When the door opened and I saw him, I screamed and couldn’t help but run and tackle him!” Stewart said, a medic with 44th Medical Brigade.
Stewart wasn’t the only one surprised by a Superstar or Diva from the WWE this past weekend at Fort Bragg. More than twenty Superstars and Divas went around the post taking pictures and signing autographs for Soldiers and families leading up to their free “Tribute to the Troops” show Sunday evening at the Crowne Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C.
“We are out here for our annual ‘Tribute to the Troops’ show,” said Wade Barrett, a WWE Superstar. “At the WWE, we like to support the U.S. troops in all our endeavors around the world.”
Besides signing autographs and taking pictures, the Superstars and Divas also had a chance to try their hand at some Army training during their visit.
“It was a lot of fun throwing the live hand grenade,” Barrett said. “I was amazed of the size of the grenade versus the size of the explosion. I didn’t think something that small could create an explosion that big. It was definitely a lot of fun, and an experience I will keep with me a long time.”
Of course, no one’s trip to Fort Bragg is complete without some good airborne training.
“Jumping out of the tower was a pretty cool experience,” Barrett said. “It was great; a nice glide down as well as a real good adrenaline rush, and something I would definitely recommend.”
Another important part of the Superstars and Divas visit was the promotion of their “Be a Star” anti-bullying campaign to military children at the Tolson Youth Activity Center.
Alicia Fox, a WWE Diva, shared with the children how she had been bullied when she was younger and how to overcome it.
“When you are being bullied or witness someone being bullied, you don’t stand by and watch it or let it happen,” she explained. “You stand up and tell an adult so you can help stop the bully!”
Cena also spoke to the children about the anti-bullying campaign ending the discussion with a loud chant from the children.
“Be a Star!” Cena cheered to the children as they roared back, “Not a bully!”
One child in the crowd who really enjoyed the Superstars and Divas visit was Demetrius Mendoza, 6, the son of Spc. Alfred Mendoza, a generator mechanic with 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
“I want to be a WWE wrestler when I grow up just like John Cena and Zack Ryder,” Mendoza said, still ecstatic from getting to meet Cena and the other wrestlers.
All around Fort Bragg, the WWE Superstars and Divas were making Soldiers’ and family members’ day with their unannounced visits.
“It really boosted morale having them come by,” said Stewart, who also attended the free ‘Tribute to the Troops’ show. “It’s still just so surreal that I got to meet John Cena. This was the best Christmas present and post-deployment present I could have asked for.”
As for the Superstars and Divas from WWE, they considered the visit a privilege and were honored to give back to the Soldiers who fight for their freedom.
“I just really want to say thank you from me and obviously everyone else at WWE,” Barrett said. “Thank you for what you do. We have a lot of respect for the job you guys do, and we really appreciate you guys keeping us all safe.”