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Current & former NFL coaches to spend July 4 with troops

New York Jets assistant special teams coach Ben

New York Jets assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica calls out a formation during practice at the Atlantic Health Training Facility. Florham Park, NJ 6/14/12 Joe Epstein/For Newsday Credit: Newsday/Joe Epstein

Four current and former NFL coaches are traveling to the Persian Gulf to celebrate Independence Day with the U.S. military.

Bill Cowher, Eric Mangini, Leslie Frazier and Ben Kotwica are part of this year’s NFL-USO Coaches Tour, which will spend a few days with the troops.

Kotwica, in his sixth year as a Jets special teams assistant coach, had spent seven years in the Army after graduating from West Point.  A former decorated officer, he earned the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

“I’m just really grateful that I was asked to be part of their wonderful experience in giving back to the soldiers,” said Kotwica, who last served in 2004 in Iraq as a combat attack helicopter commander. “I know how special it is, as a former officer and soldier myself, when people from the NFL and the USO come over to support the troops.”

Cowher, the former longtime Steelers coach and a current football analyst for CBS, will make his second trip on the tour. He participated in the inaugural Coaches Tour in 2009. Cowher’s father served in the Air Force from 1940-1945.

Mangini, now an ESPN analyst, as coach of the Jets in 2007 had hosted a group from Fort Bragg at the team facility. The soldiers were treated like members of the team, attending meetings and practices.

“Giving back to veterans and active service members is the least we can do as Americans,” said Frazier, the Vikings head coach. “We are able to live free and raise our families safely because of the sacrifices these brave men and women make every day.”

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