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Tillman Jersey In Afghanistan Saved As Troops Are Withdrawn

Bagram memento was centerpiece of USO center

Pat Tillman remains an important figure within the military, and in his memory there was a place in Afghanistan for troops and other base workers to try and enjoy downtime thousands of miles from home.

But as the military slowly withdrew troops from the region, the question was what to do with the many mementos housed within the USO Pat Tillman Center at the Bagram Airfield -- the biggest U.S. base in Afghanistan -- including a framed Tillman jersey.

According to the Stars and Stripes news service, the center hosted about 2 million people over its lifetime while people waited for flights at the airbase, allowing them to take in movies or video games or just get on the internet. While the military removed troops, the USO kept employees there in part so many of the mementos could be brought home to the U.S.

"We do our best to preserve artifacts of historical or symbolic significance to us," the USO's CEO Alan Reyes said.

Once the U.S. left the base and turned it over to the Afghan forces, the idea was to remove all American reminders.

The main piece of the center was a framed Tillman jersey. The USO's Kimberly Culverhouse-Steadman, charged with bringing back some of the items, left in late May with a pair of suitcases. One was her personal belongings. One had keepsakes -- including the Tillman jersey.

But Culverhouse-Steadman was told before she got on the government flight she could only take one of them with her. She got a friend to mail her personal suitcase just so she could make sure the Tillman suitcase stayed close. The jersey got back to the USO headquarters in Virginia. The USO told the paper they may eventually send the jersey back to Arizona and the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The Tillman jersey is now at USO headquarters in Arlington, Va. It may be sent later to Arizona, where his family and foundation are based, the USO said.

Tillman army jersey