FORT HOOD — World Wrestling Entertainment brought the Superstars to Fort Hood on Tuesday to film the 16th annual “Tribute to the Troops,” scheduled to air on the USA Network on Dec. 20.

Big names such as Ronda Rousey, Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair and 1996 Olympic Games wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle spent the morning prior to filming the tribute by conducting physical training and having breakfast with the troops, rappelling at the air assault course and viewing a K-9 demonstration by the post’s military working dog handlers.

“As the deputy commander of III Corps, this is really important for us. It’s fantastic that WWE took time out to show their appreciation for the troops of the 3rd Corps, the U.S. Army and the military as a whole,” said British Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander for sustainment. “It’s events like these, and the showing of public support by institutions such as the WWE, that is essential for building that morale (among the troops).”

Mingling with the troops and families was not the only outreach event the wrestling Superstars conducted.

“In addition to shooting the tribute show, WWE had another six teams of wrestlers at various events across the post, to include an outreach to dependent children with an anti-bullying rally at Meadows Elementary School,” said John Saboor, executive vice president of special events for WWE. “Of the 550 events WWE Superstars will perform around the world, Tribute to the Troops is one of their favorites because it’s an opportunity for them to look inwardly and thank soldiers and their families for everything they do for our nation.”

For the soldiers, getting to meet their favorite wrestlers was exciting.

“It was a pretty big surprise seeing a guy (Angle) I watched wrestling as a kid just randomly in the (Dining Facility) where I go to eat every morning,” said Cpl. Kurtis Cox, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team. “I’ve been watching him since before I even knew what TV was — I remember hearing about him win the Olympics back in ’96, and then he showed up on TV and I was like, ‘wow, there he is.’”

One soldier knew the visit was just going to make her 4-year-old son’s day.

“He’s got a wrestling mat, has a few wrestling (action figures) … he’s pretty much got it going on. He probably knows all of these people,” said Pvt. Carmen Tally, pointing at a group photo of all the Superstars she was collecting autographs on for her son.

“I think this is amazing, because sometimes the soldiers feel like we don’t really get recognized.” added the soldier from 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, “It’s really good that they come and sit where the soldiers sit, eat what the soldiers eat, interact, take pictures, sign autographs ... it’s really nice of them to do that.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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