Ron Zook USO Tour Travel Log


Illinois football coach Ron Zook is among five college football coaches currently visiting U.S. troops in Europe and South West Asia as part of the 2010 USO Coaches Tour. Zook and Army's Rich Ellerson, Oregon's Chip Kelly, Harvard's Tim Murphy and Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville will make eight stops in nine days on the tour. The coaches will conduct autograph and photo sessions and participate in panel discussions. They also will oversee athletic competitions with the troops. The tour is presented by the USO and Morale Entertainment.

Coach Zook himself will be sending photos and providing updates on his experiences throughout the trip:


May 24

Ramstein Air Force Base
Ramstein Air Force Base. Enlarge Photo

First off, one of the most impressive things I've seen so far is the unbelievable efficiency of the men and women who are coordinating this trip and taking care of us. It's very evident why the women and men in the U.S. Armed Forces are the best in the world at what they do. We arrived in Germany at about 11:30 this morning after the 10-hour flight from McConnell Air Force Base on a C-135. The time difference from Champaign-Urbana is plus seven hours. I got to sit in the jump seat for takeoff and landing, and had a great visits with Brigadier General Richard Devereaux and Col. James Crowhurst, commander of the air refueling wing at McConnell. I had chance to go in the back of the plane with the boom operator to see how they refuel planes. It was loud and cold, but it is amazing how professional our troops are. I've never been to Germany before. It's exciting to be able to thank our troops for what they do for us. It's easy to see why they are the best in the world.

After arriving in Ramstein, we got cleaned up from the trip, got a briefing, and then made a hospital visit at the Landstuhl Medical Center in Ramstein. Every major incident that happens to a U.S. soldier on this side of the world comes through this hospital, and the survival rate for those injured people who get here within a short time is extremely 99 percent. Right now, it's a good thing that there aren't many people admitted to the hospital. The Wounded Warrior program has a strong presence here in supporting the injured soldiers and their families.

We had an autograph session today as well at a shopping mall on the base, and the turnout was incredible. I couldn't believe all the folks who had connections to Illinois, Chicago or the University of Illinois. Here are a couple photos of SFC Keven L. Jaques, USA MP, who I met today. He is a huge Illini fan!

Illini Fans!
Illini Fans! Enlarge Photo

Illini Fans!
SFC Keven L. Jaques, USA MP, shows off his Illini gear. Enlarge Photo

I ran out of items to autograph there were so many! We leave early tomorrow morning for the next leg of our trip.



May 23

Today we depart for Ramstein Air Base in Germany.  I don't have time to write much, but here is a photo of the armor we have to wear:

Body armor
Armor fitting. Enlarge Photo

Armor plates that go in our vests
Armor plates that go in our vests. Enlarge Photo












And here are a few shots of the C-135 we're flying to Germany on:

Plane to Germany
Home for the next 10 hours. Enlarge Photo

Plane to Germany
The pilot says we're ready to go. Enlarge Photo














May 22

Leaving Champaign
Leaving Champaign and heading to McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kan. en route to Germany. Enlarge Photo

Left Champaign early in the morning and arrived at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, to prepare for trip overseas.












Media Coverage:

May 23 - Decatur Herald and Review: The scenery surrounding Zook, Illini
May 5 - USO tour special opportunity for Illinois' Zook
May 5 - Big Ten Blog: Illinois' Zook will visit troops on USO tour
May 5 - Ron Zook To Visit Troops in Germany and Southwest Asia