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WWE ships four to Kuwait
While most people don't have Kuwait on their summer ‘To Visit' lists—or any other Middle Eastern countries for that matter—the volatility of the country bordered by Iraq and Saudi Arabia can't keep WWE from sending four of its Superstars overseas to visit and entertain U.S. troops.
"It's our way to show the men and women of the armed forces that we appreciate what they've done," said Gary Davis, Vice President of WWE Corporate Communications. "We've done these handshake tours before. They're a lot of fun and troops appreciate seeing our Superstars and Divas at their base camps."
Making the voyage to Kuwait from WWE will be Hall of Famer "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart and WWE Legend Ron "Faarooq" Simmons. The 2005 Diva Search winner, Ashley, and RAW Diva, Maria will also be on board.
"This is my second USO tour, and my second time visiting the troops," Maria said. "It's going to be crazy and probably scary and tiring, but it'll be worth it very much in the end."
Ashley was involved with a similar trip WWE took to Afghanistan in December 2005, and is looking forward to round two.
"I had such a blast in Afghanistan, and I'm so happy that I'm going to get the chance to experience this again," she said. "You've got to feel for these guys—they're putting their lives on the line for us, and if any of us can do anything to pay them back I think we should."
Both Divas understand that a country within such close proximity to Iraq will contain hazards around every corner, but in spite of the dangers, both women insist the pluses outweigh the minuses.
"Anything can happen going over to the Middle East," said Ashley. "But my company takes care of me, and I trust them. I have full faith that I will come back exactly the way I left, if not a little bit better in the heart."
Appearing in front of soldiers who are too busy fighting the War on Terror to see women—let alone Divas—in clothing other than camouflage fatigues and combat boots breeds quite the elated reception from the troops, but Maria claims the admiration she receives is reciprocal.
"They react to us like we're princesses. It's an amazing experience to go out there," she said. "Everybody is so grateful we're there because we're so grateful that they're there; it's definitely all about them."
Ashley expects a similar reaction, and feels it's crucial for her to do her part to give the soldiers a few hours of reprieve from their perilous profession.
"These guys are lonely. They haven't seen familiar faces or haven't had any visitors outside the service in God knows how long," said Ashley. "I remember the reaction we got when we went over to Afghanistan—it was so strong and it was so...it just really touched my heart."