Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and offensive guard Ben Garland were admittedly proud after recently returning from a USO Tour to Iraq and Kuwait.
Quinn and Garland joined center Alex Mack, kicker Matt Bryant and other team personnel in visiting United States service members at seven military bases over a three-day span.
“After seeing all of this and seeing all of the soldiers, it’s the ultimate sacrifice,” the 47-year-old Quinn said, per the team’s website. “Everything that they do exemplifies team at the highest level, and there is no price that they won’t (pay) to ensure our freedom. And, as an American, that means a (heck) of a lot.”
Quinn, who won the NFL’s Salute to Service Award in 2016, is often quick to express his appreciation to the military. In fact, Quinn is on record as saying that he would be in the military if he wasn’t a coach.
He likely would have a lengthy conversation about the military with Garland, who serves in the Colorado Air National Guard. The 30-year-old is a graduate of the Air Force Academy in 2010 and the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year in part because of the work he’s done to honor service members, veterans and their families.
The recent visit was Garland’s second USO trip to a military base this year. He joined other NFL players to Germany and Italy in May.
“Just the small sacrifices these troops make, they’re being away from their families, their kids are growing up but they’re over here protecting their kids,” Garland said. “It’s one of those things where there’s so many thousands and thousands of sacrifices — the small ones and up to the absolute ultimate sacrifice that they’re making for us. It’s a huge price, and I’m glad somebody is brave enough to pay it.”