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Todd Belcher: From the Battle Field to the Football Field
"The training you do for a big game is just doing training for a big mission."
Several weeks ago, Alumni Football USA received an email from a guy who wanted to play in his high school's alumni game. We get these emails all the time, but this one was different. This one was from Afghanistan. This one was from Todd Belcher: Husband,Father, Soldier,and soon to be Alumni Football player.
Before knowing where Todd was writing from, we sent out the usual email reminder about upcoming team practices. Todd replied with apologies that he would be unable to make the practices:
"I will be coming from Afghanistan to make it to the game. If that is going to be a problem...believe me, I am in way better shape than those boys."
We alerted the team to really put some sweat into their practices, and eagerly found out more about Todd.
Todd riding a camel in the Middle East, Todd's High School Football Team: Daniel Boone
"I am a Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. I retired at 20 years and now I work for IBM as Site Lead for Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance Task Force at Bagram Air Base (Bagram, Afghanistan)."
Chief Belcher, his wife Sandra,daughter Taylor and sons, Trevor and Joseph.
Todd was part of a Quick Reaction Company, and completed succesful deployments to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Mogadishu, Somalia, in direct support of Operation Southern Watch. Chief Belcher completed the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School and the Army Airborne School. While performing his duties as the Joint Fleet Telecommunication Watch Officer, he provided superior C4I support and instituted creative solutions to mitigate shortfalls in communication. His many contributions have significantly improved operational readiness and FIFTH Fleet Operations success.
Todd has been deployed numerous times to Doha, Qatar and Baghdad, Iraq, and directly supported Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM and the Global War on Terrorism.He also acted as Advisor of the Command Drug and Alcohol Program .
His decorations include the Joint Servi Commendation (2 Gold Stars), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1 Gold Star), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (1 Gold Star), Combat Action Ribbon as well as multiple other medals and service ribbons.
Recently Todd posted this comment: "Today is a good day to watch Saving Private Ryan...not just for the movie but people need to put themselves in the shoes of those men and what they was thinking right before the doors came down and then all hell broke loose. It is a crazy thing to put your life on the line for a bigger purpose than yourself."
On May 19, 2012 Todd Belcher joined fellow Boone High School Alumni on the football battle field. He was honored, together with other heros past and present, with a 21 gun salute and presentation of colors.
The final words of the National Anthem echoed through the stadium, and the hard hits began. Todd posted this status from the sidelines during the game: "No pain no gain.... Loving every minute."
We got to ask him a couple of questions after the game:
What was it like coming home to Jonesborough for this game?
I always like coming back to Tennessee and seeing a Boone football game and looking at my old house and have memories of growing up flood my brain...then go to Daniel Boone HS and look at the football ball field and the track and remember running the stadium steps before summer practice and playing ball with my friends. It always take me back to when times were simple. I love my Tennessee roots and I am happy that I lived where I lived and grew up with the people that I know and stay in touch with 28 years after my graduation. My family and friends and fellow teammates help make me the man I am today.
How did playing football prepare you for your future, and for war?
I started playing football before I started school. I have always loved playing football. My father taught me that sports would help with working in groups and that concept has prepared me for life.
You have to learn that your buddy is doing his job and if everyone is doing their job then you have a unified force. The same concept goes for the military. You always trust you buddy that he will have your six and take care of you while your taking care of him. The battle on the gridiron and the battle field are the same but different.The unity needs to be there for the team members. They have to know to trust their buddies but most of all trust their training.The training you do for a big game is just doing training for a big mission.
On a balmy May evening in Jonesborough Tennessee, alongside his fellow Boone teammates,Todd went to war against archrival David Crockett High School. The battle field was grassy green instead of desert sand, and the men wore jerseys instead of camo, but the camaraderie was strong and victory sweet. Todd Belcher added the Legends of the Musket Bowl Musket to his long list of awards.
Beaming, Todd announced: "I had a great time at Crockett and got the one that got away from me back in the day."