Yankees slugger a hit with wounded at Landstuhl
New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher embraces Sgt. Chad Hall. On Nov. 22, 2011, Swisher visited with wounded troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
LANDSTUHL, Germany — Sgt. Chad Hall was still in a slight haze after surgery on his back to replace several damaged vertebrae. Newly fused metal in his spine caused him pain with every movement.
But when New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher walked into his hospital room, his eyes widened and he grew animated.
“My family is going to love this,” Hall said. “I can’t wait to tell my son that Daddy got to meet a Yankee.”
The pair briefly talked sports. Born near Pittsburgh, Hall was wrapped in a Steelers blanket.
“Sorry about the playoffs,” Hall told Swisher, referring to the Yankees’ loss against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series this past season.
“You heal up,” Swisher replied.
They shook hands and Hall was given a signed cap and picture.
“You just made my day,” he said. “All my pain is gone.”
On Tuesday, Swisher and his wife were accompanying Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal as he visited patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Westphal’s visit came a day after a bipartisan Congressional committee failed to reach agreement on how to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years. The failure could mean $600 billion in automatic cuts to the defense budget over and above $450 billion already slated for cuts.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we are going to continue to look for more efficiencies to save taxpayer resources and do this job better,” Westphal said. “But we have to recognize that we are at war and that we have major commitments to follow through on.”
Westphal did not mention specific cuts, saying those decisions would be made during the upcoming year.
“We are uncertain what the resources will be like,” he said. “But we’re a long way from those decisions being final.”
After visiting Landstuhl, Westphal and the Swishers will be flying to Kandahar, Afghanistan, to spend Thanksgiving with the troops there. Swisher’s wife, Joanna Garcia, is an actress and has starred in the television sitcoms “Reba” and “Better With You.”
“This is going to be our first Thanksgiving as a married couple,” she said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a day that we will never forget.”
At Landstuhl’s USO Wounded Warrior Center, Swisher embraced the soldiers he met with a handshake and a “How you doin’, homie?” He is known for his outgoing personality.
“As cool as it is for them to meet us, we are so excited and honored to meet them,” he said. “We’re so happy to be here and we are having an absolute blast.”
Swisher finished his tour signing several T-shirts, including one for Sgt. Robert Hewitt of the 368 Engineer Battalion. Hewitt, of New Hampshire, is a longtime Red Sox fan.
“He’s a rival,” Hewitt said. “But he’s a good guy for coming out here and doing this.”