From: John Lynch
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 10:37 AM
To: Armstrong Ekpete 363 EAACS/CREW1408
Subject: RE: Hi
After reading your letter, I gained instant respect for you -- anyone who has stuck with the Detroit Lions has my utmost respect. Just kidding, Armstrong -- in fact, the Lions used to be in our division and always gave us fits! In my 11 NFL seasons, one of my happiest days as a pro was when Barry Sanders retired. I am featured in a number of his classic highlight reels, which isn't necessarily a great thing when you're trying to stop him. He clearly was the best player that I have had the opportunity to play against.
In all seriousness, I want to thank you and the rest of the troops for all you do to keep our families safe and make our world a better place!
Here in Tampa, we have a great relationship with the people at MacDill Air Force Base, where as you know U.S. Central Command is based. In the last couple of years, I have been fortunate enough to get to know General Tommy Franks and many other military personnel at MacDill. I really respect the sacrifices you and the many others in our Armed Forces make for our country.
As I have discussed with General Franks, there are a number of comparisons to be drawn in how the operations of both the military unit and the Buccaneers football team function. Obviously, the job you are asked to do is certainly more dangerous and much more important. To me the similarities lay in the fact that we are both asked to develop a plan, work tirelessly to refine that specific plan, and finally execute that plan with as much precision as possible. I would say with the coalition's recent success with Operation Iraqi Freedom, you guys have won your Super Bowl!
You should be proud of what you have accomplished! We are certainly all very proud of you back home.
We are in the midst of our offseason workout programs and I understand you are spending a lot of time in the gym as well. In my next correspondence, I will tell you about my experience flying with the Thunderbirds -- What a rush! In addition, I look forward to introducing you to my wife and three children.
I hope things are well in Saudi Arabia. Thank you and God Bless!
From: Armstrong Ekpete 363 EAACS/CREW1408
Sent: Wednesday, April 9, 2003 7:45 AM
To: John Lynch
I would like to thank you and ESPN for giving us this opportunity to getaway from the daily grind of work even if it is only for a few moments. I have been in the U.S Air Force since November, 1998. I am an Airborne Surveillance Technician (AST) aboard the AWACS. In a nutshell I detect, identify, report and track all aircraft in my area of responsibility. Prior to Operation Iraqi freedom I have been a part of Operation Northern Watch (Incirilik, Turkey), Operation Southern Watch (Prince Sultan Air base, Saudi
Arabia), Operation Enduring Freedom (Thumbrait AB, Oman) and Operation Noble Eagle (out of my home station at Tinker AFB, OK).
As of now I am assigned to the 363d EAACS at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia. I have been in the AOR (Oman and Saudi Arabia) for over 130 days flying missions supporting both OEF and OIF. Work here has been hectic but all those years of training has finally paid off. My fellow crewmembers and I spend a lot of time in the gym to keep ourselves busy. There is very little to keep ourselves occupied when we are not flying missions. Due to our schedule we can only catch sports scores and results on the news or internet.
I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I guess that's why I love football so much. I grew up in Nigeria so I never had the opportunity to play football. I am a huge Detroit Lions fan. My friends here give me a hard time about that. I have always enjoyed watching Tampa Bay play. Although I never rooted for your team it was nice to see a hardworking team win the Super bowl. I think it will be an interesting draft this year and the 2003-2004 season will be full of surprises.
Well I hope you guys are all doing OK. Stay healthy and I hope to hear from you soon.