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Hospital stop impacts Marlins visiting troops

Hospital stop impacts Marlins visiting troops

Hospital stop impacts Marlins visiting troops
During the first few days of their troops visit, Marlins representatives interacted with soldiers, observed their training and even watched the Super Bowl with them on a large screen.

On Monday, the contingent saw a more sobering side of military life.

The group spent four hours at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The largest military hospital outside of the United States, LRMC is where those wounded in battle are sent.

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"This has been our most impactful stop," said Marlins senior vice president of marketing Sean Flynn. "The other things we've done up until now were kind of the precursor. What we saw today was kind of the effect of what goes on. Before this, we saw training and soldiers getting ready, preparing themselves."

Flynn is among the Marlins' contingent that includes outfielder Logan Morrison, catcher John Buck, team president David Samson and special assistants Jeff Conine and Andre Dawson.

Also part of the group are John Sulser (Fox Sports Florida Marlins game producer), Boris Menier (Marlins marketing supervisor) and three members of the Marlins Mermaids dance team.

"It was incredible," Flynn said of the hospital visit. "This is the first stop for any wounded personnel. We met some soldiers who just got in today. We met some who have been here a week or so, and they were shipping out -- either back to their unit or back for further treatment."

For the second straight year, the Marlins are working with Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) to reach out to those serving their country.

As part of the 2011 trip, the Marlins are visiting Germany and Southwest Asia.

The visit runs through Friday, and until Monday, the contingent spent a few days in Bahrain, where they had several meet and greets with troops at various bases.

Spending a day at the military hospital served as a reminder of what the troops face on a daily basis.

"When you walk into a place like that, the reality of what these individuals do for us sinks in," Flynn said. "They're risking their lives. It smacks you right in the face.

"We spent about four hours interacting with folks -- the doctors, nurses, technicians. They would tell us their stories and we would tell them a little bit of what is going on back home."

After the trip to the hospital, the group returned to the Ramstein Air Base, where it again greeted the troops.

On a lighter side to an otherwise somber day, the Marlins also conducted their second baseball clinic of the trip.

Team officials met with and offered instruction to young players at the Ramstein Air Base. Taking part was the Ramstein baseball team, which represented Europe at the 2010 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

A few days ago, the Marlins also conducted a clinic in Bahrain.

Teaching baseball, followed by eating dinner with the troops, capped an emotional day.

"The effect [of military life] is what we saw today," Flynn said. "It's the reality of what the men and women do for us. They put their lives on the line."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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