Steamboat skier, astronaut visit troops
Lodwick, Swanson went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, this month
July 20, 2010
Steamboat Springs — In his second Heavy Medal Tour, Todd Lodwick made a shorter journey for a shorter time, but he came back to Steamboat Springs with the same sentiment.
Lodwick, an Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion, recently returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where along with Steamboat astronaut Steve Swanson and United States Olympic Committee Athlete Ombudsman John Ruger, he took part in the Heavy Medal Tour II.
"The best part of the trip is I got to see even more troops," Lodwick said. "As many troops as I can see and tell them thanks, I feel like I'm doing my part to give back. It's awesome to have that opportunity."
Lodwick, with fellow Nordic combined medalists Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane and Brett Camerota, toured the Middle East in April.
This time, Lodwick, Swanson and Ruger went to Guantanamo Bay to visit with troops. They left July 11 and returned July 14.
Although the trip was short, they got the most out of it. They started the tour with the NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay's Security Department. There they got a demonstration by the K-9 unit before visiting the local radio station Radio GTMO.
From there, they met with troops, signed autographs and spent time with members of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marines before returning to the United States.
"It worked out really well," said Rob Powers, founder of The Warrior Tours. "It was fun. All these things breed is to bring America's finest to America's finest heroes. Having an Olympian and an astronaut from Steamboat was a double punch of fun for the troops."
The trip to Guantanamo was unusual. Most trips of this kind go to the Middle East. This was just the second Armed Forces Entertainment trip to Guantanamo this year.
"I think the thing to take away for me was the neutral benefit of both parties," Ruger said. "Steve and Todd are such great ambassadors of their professions. They got as much out of it as the troops did. It's a hugely beneficial relationship. These guys are getting a lot of energy just from being there."
Powers said the next Heavy Medal Tour likely would take place in 2011. Then he'll travel to the Middle East with summer athletes prepping for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
For more information, visit http://www.thewarriortours.com.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org