Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas coach Mack Brown can't wait to personally tell U.S. servicemen and women in the Middle East and Europe how grateful he is for their services.
"I want to share the deep appreciation that our football program, the university and the state have for so many Texans who are fighting for us," Brown said. "But also as Americans, just to say 'thank you' to all the soldiers."
Brown will be a part of a tour of football coaches to military bases around the world. Other coaches who will be a part of the tour include UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, Mississippi coach Houston Nutt, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
The group will depart from McConnell Air Force Base, near Wichita, Kan., on Thursday. The coaches plan to visit troops stationed at U.S. Military installations in Germany, Turkey, Iraq, Spain and Djibouti before returning back home on June 4.
This is the second coaches' tour that has been sponsored. After hearing of the concept, Brown was intrigued about including himself and his wife, Sally, for an upcoming trip.
"I don't think people are talking about the Marines and the soldiers as much as we should," Brown said. "This isn't whether I personally or Sally agree with the war, because that decision has already been made. But this is about the people who are over there.
"When I heard the average age of our military over there is 19 years old, it's same as the guys we deal with on our team. It just touched my heart. And a small piece of this will be simply to say that we appreciate you."
Brown and the coaches will make a 20-hour trip aboard military transport planes.
"I'm sure after talking to some of the coaches who have gone over there that I'll get more out of it than I'll give," Brown said. "A lot of the guys who have gone over there, we've known. We've known the coaches who are going over there [this trip] for a long time. I think we are all a little anxious, but excited at the same time."
Brown's father was in the military during World War II in the South Pacific when he served as a tail gunner on a military bomber. His plane was shot down, but Brown's father was able to walk away from the accident without injuries.
"He wouldn't ever talk to us about the war," Brown said. "But when he got back home, he would not fly to our games. He never got in a plane again."
After watching the war unfold on television, Brown is interested in receiving a better understanding of the conflict after seeing that part of the world.
"How many people get to see Iraq or Kuwait? I want to see those places," Brown said. "I see them on TV. But when I come home, maybe I can share with my team and others and appreciate what's happening over there much more."
Brown said he expects to receive some good-natured ribbing from fans of other schools while overseas.
"This is a way for me to say thank you from the state of Texas to all of our soldiers," Brown said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Tech fan. They'll have their guns up and the Aggies will all be kidding me with their thumbs up. But this is just to make the soldiers smile."