Paula Creamer at Fort Bragg: 'My passion is for the military'
LPGA golfer Paula Creamer holds an M240 machine gun during visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., servicemembers and families Monday, June 23, 2014.
Paula Creamer, fresh off a week at Pinehurst competing in the U.S. Women's Open, spent Monday with soldiers from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division, meeting with the troops and watching training sessions before greeting fans at Stryker Golf Course.
The LPGA Tour golfer welcomed dozens of fans with words of thanks for those in the military.
"Thank you for what you do," she said. "I'm able to live my passion because of what you do."
Creamer has personal ties to the military. Her father, Paul, is a retired Navy pilot, and she's engaged to Air Force pilot Derek Heath.
She's visited numerous military installations in recent years in a display of gratitude to servicemembers.
Creamer watched a paratrooper jump, an indirect fire exercise and an airborne operation. She ate lunch with the troops and tried on a T-11 parachute.
"I had an awesome day, and I got to hang out with some really cool men and women," she said. "I didn't get to jump, but I did get to wear everything. I'm glad I didn't jump, but I was prepared to."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tristan Archambault was one of the officers who escorted Creamer through the visit. She said Creamer's time spent with troops "speaks to her character."
"She's taking a day out of her busy schedule to meet with soldiers, their families and come to something like this," Archambault said. "She wants to get an idea of what she's supporting and try to relate the struggles of military life to everyday people."
Creamer was at Pinehurst Resort through Sunday playing in the Women's Open. Creamer, who won the Open in 2010, finished in a tie for 15th.
Shauna Blackwell, who lives in Fayetteville's Baywood golf community, said her 12-year-old daughter, Toni, asked to attend the event at Stryker.
"We saw her at Pinehurst last week at the Open," Blackwell said. "And then my daughter came to me Friday and said, 'You've got to take me to see Paula Creamer.' "
Robert Dano, who served 22 years in the Army, said he appreciates Creamer using her celebrity status to back the military.
"She really supports the military," Dano said. "She's known all over the world, and she's kind of an ambassador for American golf."
Creamer has her own nonprofit organization, the Paula Creamer Foundation, that benefits youth golf and military families.
"My passion, my foundation, is for the military," Creamer said. "I do a lot for junior golf, I do, but I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the men and women in the military."