Operation Appreciation tour visits troops in Bosnia and Kosovo
Monday, December 10, 2012

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Grabbing a meal in the Camp Butmir multinational dining facility were Sgt. Vance Haymaker and Eddie Krawiec (left side of table) and Jim Greenleaf, Cpt. Paul Brown, Jason Line, and Wayne Reed (right side of table).
This year, Summit Racing Equipment/Armed Forces Entertainment Operation Appreciation has visited troops in Bosnia and Kosovo. The last stop was a meet and greet on Friday night at Camp Butmir, outside Sarajevo, Bosnia. Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines took time after the session to reflect on the weeklong adventure that he shared with fellow Harley teammate Eddie Krawiec and tour veterans Greg Anderson, Jason Line, and Dan Runte.

First we were in Stuttgart, Germany, where there are thousands of troops. In Germany, soldiers can have family with them, so they have some emotional support when they’re out in their field. Coming into Camp Bondsteel and seeing the young National Guard and the full-service members away from family and friends, you feel for them. Getting the chance to hang out with them at night and talk to them about what they are going through, it’s a totally different deal. They’re putting their lives on the line and leaving loved ones to go do what America has asked them to do.

I’m just glad we’re able to bring a smile to the troops’ faces and to let them know that we’re excited to be there and that we support them. We had a great response from everybody. I expected an eye-opening experience, and that’s what I’ve received. The work that these people put in day in and day out to accomplish their mission is amazing. That even extends to how things were prepared for us. They’ve done everything to a "T."

I’m going home with a newfound respect for everything our military does. I’ve been fairly quiet this trip, just kind of soaking it all in. It’s more than I ever thought. These guys go through a tremendous amount of emotional pain, and they have a ton of pride in what they do, which is great to see.

My dad was an Army helicopter mechanic in Vietnam. We went out to the flight line at Camp Bondsteel to crawl around a Blackhawk helicopter and see the guys working on them, which was an inspiring moment. I got to see what my dad did to serve his country. I had a ton of respect for him before, but I have a newfound appreciation for his service now.

I’m very honored to be part of this trip. We had a great crew here with Team Summit Racing; this is something I will never, ever forget.