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War-hero Ben Kotwica on USO tour Dan Leberfeld

Four current and former NFL coaches are currently travelling on a NFL-USO Coaches Tour. Former NFL coach and current CBS Sports analyst BILL COWHER; New York Jets Assistant Special Teams Coach BEN KOTWICA, an Army veteran; Minnesota Vikings Head Coach LESLIE FRAZIER; and former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst ERIC MANGINI are meeting with members of the U.S. military for several days in the Persian Gulf and will celebrate the Fourth of July with the troops.

The NFL and USO have organized overseas morale-building visits for 46 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia to demonstrate the league’s support for America’s troops.

A decorated officer, Kotwica spent seven years in the Army after graduating from West Point, where he was a three-year starter at linebacker and captain of the winningest football team in Army history (1996).

In 2004, Kotwica was sent to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, serving as a combat attack helicopter commander and flying more than 1,000 combat hours. He also spent time in Bosnia and Korea. During his Army career, Kotwica earned the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

“I’m just really grateful that I was asked to be part of their wonderful experience in giving back to the soldiers,” Kotwica said. “I know how special it is, as a former officer and soldier myself, when people from the NFL and the USO come over to support the troops. I consider myself lucky to have this opportunity.”