Mediterranean 2002







The  Cheerleaders of America began  the exciting adventure to the Mediterranean on October
28th.  After 16 hours of travel, we  arrived in Rome.  From there,  we  headed to Olbia, a city on
the island of Sardegna, the second largest island in the Mediterranean.  After a beautiful ride
through the island, we took a ferry to a small island called La Maddalena, Italy.  Our first
Italian meal consisted of 15 courses throughout a 3 hour time span, where we truly enjoyed
getting to know our  new friends Paul,  Julie, and Greg.
Our first day on the island was incredible.  We rode on the Commanders private  ferry to the
U.S.S. Emory S. Land AS-39.  Taking a tour of the U.S.S. Emory, we learned how much it takes
to maintain such a large vessel.  The primary purpose of the ship is to repair and maintain the
fleet of submarines and ship in the Mediterranean..  Two submarines were being worked on,  
the U.S.S. San Juan and the U.S.S. Annapolis.  We  had a chance to tour the subs.  We  learned
there is only one bathroom and one shower for the crew of 120 and the sailors sleep in very
small quarters,  some with missiles stored over their heads.  The crew informed us  the subs
can launch tomahawk missiles and we  got a chance to see the missiles and where they are
launched.  

We did our  first show at the Box Office Cinema on the Navy base.  It was a great first run of
the show and the troops enjoyed it tremendously.  The cheerleaders were presented a certificate
of appreciation from the Department of the Navy, U.S. Naval Support Activity, La Maddalena,
Italy.

The next day, we  were suppose to head to Catania, on the island of Sicily, however,  were
re-routed to Rome due to the active volcano Mt. Etna, and subsequent earthquakes.    

Back to Rome, we met our new great friend Charlie.  Charlie rescued us from the Rome airport
by graciously driving 6 hours to transport us to Capodechino, NSA Navy Base in Naples.

Upon our arrival, it was a quick check-in to base housing, Capo Inn, and then off to the "Fit
Zone" Gym to do our show.  It was a great crowd with many children and adults and we all
enjoyed 90 minutes of entertainment.  We followed the show with an autograph session and
then to the military police unit to do the photos with the police dogs, Sandy and Don.  

The next day, we enjoyed a day off in Pompei thanks to our  friend Charlie.  He volunteered  
his day off so we could tour the ancient city destroyed by the volcano, Mt. Vesuvio.  It was an
incredible day that will never be forgotten. We finished  the day with traditional Italian pizza
at the most famous restaurant in Italy.  

The next day we headed back to Rome and arrived in time to take the opportunity to walk the
streets of Rome and see the Coliseum.  What an amazing structure.  The next day was the most
incredible day of the trip and was very moving.  We  visited Vatican City and St. Peter's
Basilica.   The statues, paintings and murals were unbelievable.  

That evening we headed back to the Rome airport and on to Pisa for 12 hours.  Upon arrival we  
prepared for the show at Camp Darby.  We performed at the Community Club.  It was an
awesome crowd  with great audience participation for the show.  After an autograph session and
a wonderful dinner, we were escorted to base housing at Casa Toscana. With just three hours of
sleep, we opted to wake up an hour early, 3:00 a.m., so as  to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa on
the  way to the airport.  And yes, the bell tower definitely leans, however, we were told it has
been reinforced and visitors can once again go up to the top.  It was definitely worth the loss of
sleep.  

After a quick check in at the airport with only 34 pieces of luggage, we  headed back to Rome
and on to Verona.. We were met at the airport by our new wonderful friends, Roy and Mike.  
After a short ride through the city, we turned a corner and we right on the water.  We were so
excited when they pulled up to  Hotel Olivetta on the beach.  Thanks to our new friends Roy
and Mike, we got to spend the evening in Venice, a.k.a, Venezia.  All the cheerleaders  agreed
we will go back to visit the city again.  It was the most incredible city we had ever seen.  We  
got to see the famous San Marcos Square and the Rialto Bridge from the ferry ride.   The next
day we went to  Ghedi Italian Airbase and had lunch in the dining facility... the food was
terrific.  The cheerleaders had a great practice and show at the Dieci-Dieci Club.  We performed
for Americans as well as the Italians, who absolutely loved the show!  We met the base
commander, his wife, and their wonderful children.  The commander even graciously
participated in the show.

Unfortunately, the next day we had to say goodbye to our friends and  head back to Rome for
the 6th time.  We now know the Rome airport almost as well as our show for the troops.  It  
became a home away from home.  From Rome, we flew to Athens, then to Chania.  With  less
than an hour to prepare, it was time for our show at Souda Bay Naval Base.  It was a hit! We
want to say a special thank you to Maria and Soula for without their support the show would of
never happened so quickly.  After an autograph session, and another  thanks to Maria, we had
food waiting for us at the club on base called "Graffii's".  It was a great dinner and we enjoyed
spending time with all our new friends.  

The next morning,  we were off  bright and early to meet the flight crew of the C-26 we  would
fly to Incirlik, Turkey. Pilots Mike and Noel along with the coolest crewman,  Melissa were
awesome. After the initial shock of the small amount of luggage (only 34 pieces ), the crew
spent the next 3 hours loading, unloading and reloading the luggage on the plane.  They were
absolute saints and we send the biggest thanks ever to them. However, it was time for
reality.....Mike broke the news to us that we had to separate from 8 pieces of luggage.....so,
along with the sound equipment, gracious cheerleaders Megan and Holly volunteered to depart
without much of their personal luggage.  .        

Upon arrival,  we met our new wonderful friend and savior,  Seyhan Elma who took us to
housing and the dining facility.  The cheerleaders then prepared for their show at the Club
Comples.  The place was packed, standing room only, with limitless energy..  The audience
stood and sang during our finale to "Proud to be and American."  It was a very moving moment.
 They even asked for an encore, and Mindy sang "God Bless America."  The cheerleaders signed
posters after the show and were told by the airmen they had a fabulous time.  

The next morning, it was time for us to pack and leave for our next destination. We received
much needed help getting our luggage to the air terminal from Adam, Carlos, Jason, JB, and the
Chief.  So, our saint pilots, Mike and Noel, along with our awesome crewman, Melissa, met on
the tarmack to once again undertake the job of packing the airplane with the now 26 pieces of
luggage in the limited space.  Just like a puzzle, if one piece was not in the right spot, it had to
be unpacked and the process started over.  However, retaining the order from the previous day,
this day of packing went much smoother and they all still had smiles on their faces!  While the
crew packed the C-26, the cheerleaders received a  tour of a C-5 from Jeremy, Michael and Todd!
  Thanks guys, it was great!

We flew, in a storm, however a great flight to Izmir Turkey with our C-26 crew, Mike, Noel
and Melissa.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ms. Ozcan Kavran and her crew.  They were
waiting on the flight line to present each of the cheerleaders  with a single rose.    It was now  
time to say our goodbyes to our awesome flight crew Mike, Noel, and Melissa, but not before
they were saints one more time.  After unloading all of our luggage in pouring down rain, they
took the time to take pictures with all the cheerleaders  Then,.  Ozcan took us to a beautiful
restaurant on the Aegean Sea,  where we were treated to an incredible Turkish 10 course meal.  
We  performed at the I.C.C., (Hilton), for an enthusiastic crowd.  

The following day was a Turkish Memorial Day.  It is a day the country remembers their
founder and leader, Ataturk.  The people were out in full force to remember this great man on
the memorial of his death. The cheerleaders left Izmir that morning and flew to Ankara, the
capital of Turkey.  This is where we met back up with Seyhan from Incirlik and our new
friend Colonel Elijah Hanks.  We  had a couple of  hours to prepare for their show at the George
C Marshall School on Base.  The kids enjoyed the show and the parents were very happy with
our visit..   It was definitely time for the cheerleaders to have an American meal.  Colonel
Hanks took us to a nice dinner at the "Terrace".  It was a beautiful restaurant and the food was
awesome..

The next morning, Colonel Hanks escorted us on a  tour of the Ataturk Mosileum.  It was built
for the leader after his death.  It was an incredible structure showing off the vehicles he use to
ride in and various other items he owned.  We  had a great time trying to get the guards in the
glass cases to laugh.....no laughs but we did get a few winks out of them.  Unfortunately, it was
time to leave Turkey. that afternoon.  So, after saying our goodbyes to our new friends Colonel
Hanks and Seyhan Elma, we were off.

The cheerleaders flew to Munich, then to Lisbon. It was our 16th commercial flight, not to
mention the two military flights.  We arrived  in Lisbon late and had to wake up within
several hours to catch a flight to Terceira, an island 900 miles from Portugal.   We  were,
ironically, met by the grandson of the great former Turkish leader, Ian Foster.  He helped us
prepare  for the performance that night at the Top of the Rock Club.  The audience was amazing
and they seemed to have  a wonderful time.  They also met a crew that had just arrived in
Terceira, but, missed the show.  They were on their way to Catania.  We looked forward to
seeing them there as we would be heading back the following Monday since our first
performance was cancelled due to the volcano.

The next day was the cheerleaders 1st official day off in 16 days. After sleeping in, we spent the
day touring the Azore Island of Terceira thanks to Lucy Lima, Ken Riggins and Pedro Lima. We
went shopping in the town of Praia.  It was a beautiful and relaxing day.  We  also took  this
opportunity to do laundry and clean costumes.  Our wonderful friends took us to dinner at a
wonderful restaurant on the top of the hill that overlooked the water.  Gorgeous  is the only
word to describe it.  

The next day, we flew back to Lisbon.  It was raining and our flight was a couple of hours late,
so we had to get it together to perform within a half an hour of our arrival.  Thanks to our
experience, our show started roughly 30 minutes after we arrived.  It was for a NATO base and
the Portuguese and American sailors loved it.  The cheerleaders received an incredible home
cooked dinner from the Portuguese cooks.  Admiral Pierce Johnson presented us with  t-shirts,
coins, patches and a beautiful Medallion as a thank you for our visit to their base.  

The next day,we were up early to fly from Lisbon to Madrid.  From Madrid, we flew to Jerez
Frontera and then took a bus to ROTA!  Vicki, Holly and Brenda got a good laugh upon their
arrival when they saw their 12 year old hoenix  Cardinals Cheerleader poster on the wall of the
Champions Sports Bar where they were to perform that night.  How bizarre to be in Spain and
see a 12 year old poster of yourself.  It was a trip.  The show went very well that night thanks
to Eric Uzelac.  He was very organized and kept all of us fed and happy.   He made us all laugh
a lot.  The next day,  Eric took us shopping in downtown Madrid for an hour before we left for
Moron.  We drove to Moron for 3 hours on a bus.  Upon our arrival, we met our new friend,
Rafael.  With only an hour to prepare for the show, Rafael played a huge role in making it
happen.  The people at Moron had a wonderful time and we found some great dancers in the
audience......they made for a great addition to the show.

The next day, we drove to Seville and flew to Madrid.  We had a performance at the Madrid
High School.  The crowd was awesome and got very involved.  Many thanks go to Brent, Scott
and James for all their help with our luggage and for the fabulous dinner after the show.  And a
special thanks to Brent for doing an awesome job as "Mrs. Doubtfire" in the show, by dancing to
"Dude Looks Like A Lady".


We got up the next morning bright and early to head for Rome, then to Catania for our final
perform.  Upon our arrival, we were told the Catania airport was closed due to the volcano
erupting again.  We were very disappointed, however, we just re-packed our belongings, went
back to the hotel and enjoyed a day off in Madrid.  It was a great day with some awesome
shopping and we all now have European clothes to wear stylishly in the states.

23 days, 21 commercial flights and 2 military flights later, we arrived home, safe and sound.  
We will have memories to share with our  families for a lifetime.  We will never forget all of
our new wonderful friends,  the men and women we met that are sacrificing their lives to
defend our freedom.  The Cheerleaders of America would like to thank tour director, Mr. John
Field, for organizing an extraordinary opportunity for us to share our time with the military
personnel and their families deployed in the Mediterranean.  A thank you to Mr. Joe Mennit
who was with us every step of the way on the tour and to all the country and base coordinators
for the awesome welcomes, hospitality, and assistance with the shows.  Thanks to all those  that
supported us and prayed for our safety.    Take care, God Bless and  God Bless America.  You all
will always be in our prayers.