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LSU head coach Les Miles (center) in Iraq
Photo by: LSUsports.net, LSU Athletics Publications
Miles Addresses Media After Trip to Middle East
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Published: June 29, 2006, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: October 29, 2009, 03:21 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- On Thursday at Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar, LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the local media about his recent trip to Kuwait and Iraq to visit our military troops.

Walk-On’s Press Luncheon
June 29, 2006

Head Coach Les Miles

On his decision to go to the Middle East...

“I want you to know something. The family issues before I left were significant. As would be my nature, I told my family that I would not go if they didn’t vote 100 percent on me being allowed to go. My 12-year-old daughter had several tearful exchanges to work. My 10-year-old boy didn’t care and he just voted ‘no.’ Then I said, ‘Oh, so you’re saying no to the United States government.’ He said then, ‘Oh, OK you can go.’ My 2-year-old said, ‘Dad, will you take me to Iraq with you.’ So, the family was 100 percent and we were ready to roll.”

“I’ve got to tell you this. I got much more from my trip than I could possibly have given. I feel very grateful that I have a job that in our society people would allow me to go over there and represent what is a very common thought here, and that is ‘Thanks.’ That’s all I said. I said thanks and that the job you’re doing here is as important a job having been done in our world by stopping terrorists by fighting the fight here and not fighting it in our country, fighting it in our cities. It allows me to be a football coach and not have to worry about the stadium, the security around the stadium. It allows me to go into that stadium and enjoy a pastime, a national pastime.”

“That’s all I said. I said thanks every chance I could from very early in the day to very late in the day. I’m not anything unlike you guys. If given the opportunity, you could take your week in Iraq and tell everybody thanks too. It’s just that simple. The only difference is, is that I got the opportunity because I was fortunate enough to represent a great school. That’s it.”

On how his decision came about...

“I volunteered. I volunteered in my last year at another place and then last year here, and they finally said, ‘yes.’ I think General Ron Richard helped in being able to translate the military issues. So, I was very thankful for that opportunity.”

On what impressed him during his trip...

“I was impressed by these things. I really felt like the base army is trained, equipped, technically proficient, advanced and dominant. I felt like that from the people that I met, and I had a select group of people that I met. It was basically people that were on bases and in safe climates. I felt like they were educated, motivated, directed, understood why they were there, and I was very impressed by their organization and the team theme that surrounded everybody that I met.”

On meeting soldiers from Louisiana...

“I was fortunate enough to see a number of people from Louisiana and give them the opportunity to talk a little football and have fun, and to say thanks and represent us generally and our way of life in America. It was very enjoyable. The experiences that we had were extraordinary. I can tell you that in each stop it was great. ”

On his first day in Kuwait...

“After you’ve been there a while it was a pretty comfortable arrangement. Beside the temperature that was outside at 120 (degrees), 127 or whatever it was, they had a gym and a dining hall and air conditioning allowed that. Generally if it was possible, and at that time it was, we would meet the commanders and go to the command center and see the technical command post. That was our first meet-and-greet (in Kuwait). We signed autographs for the troops there then went to a work out facility. It was in a newsletter throughout the camp that folks were going to be there if we wanted to come by. So, we went to the gym and workout facility, and we were there probably several hours.”

“Then we went to a naval base, which is really right across the way. It was the shared space with the Kuwait navy at the naval yard there. We stopped as we were waiting to do a meet-and-greet that night in an area near the water, and they showed the bullet holes where the Iraqi army had come in and killed some innocent Kuwaitis there. Then we went to an evening meet-and-greet that lasted until 11 p.m. We went back and stayed in Kuwait. We were in a hotel right near the airport. So, that was where we went.”

On his flight to Camp Freedom in Baghdad...

“The next day we left to Camp Freedom in Baghdad, and we took a transport, a C130 transport to Baghdad. It was an interesting ride in one of those planes. There were no seatbelts, seatbelt signs and nobody delivering a Diet Coke and peanuts. No one cared if you had a seatbelt on. To be honest, we all have a comfort zone. As soon as I flew across that ocean to Frankfurt (Germany), then from Frankfurt to Kuwait I was out of mine. Coach (Lou) Holtz and myself were invited to sit right behind the pilots, and we had earphones to hear the banter. We’re going down the runway and we get up in the air, and I hear this, ‘Hey, what the heck is that noise? What’s goin’ on?’ The loadmaster was in the back and he says, ‘It sound like a washing machine back here, guys. Somebody get back here and find out what it is.’ Some guy went back and found out that somebody didn’t close the escape hatch. I was just like this out of a comfort zone. A quiet came over that back area, and we had a lot of fun talking with those guys from Kuwait on our way to Iraq.”

On if he ever feared for his safety...

“I’d lie if I told you, ‘Yeah, at all times I was ready to take on the enemy.’ But the truth of the matter is it’s what you’re to, and I was not used to any of this. There was a point in time where I had some anxiety. I’m a low anxiety guy, and my anxiety meter probably raised a little. It probably ended after going over Baghdad in a helicopter. My anxiety, I started understanding that I am doing what everybody does. I am rationalizing what’s normal now as to being this is what’s normal and I’m OK. I really started really enjoying myself a lot more because I didn’t enjoy myself during some of those movements.”

On if his experience has given him a new sense of purpose in his own life...

“I don’t think there’s any question that it brings a want and desire to be excellent, and that with the price that’s being paid for our civil liberties and our freedoms we should really enjoy what we have and certainly pursue excellence at its highest level. That point was made while I was over there.”

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