Story by Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Players from the Seattle Seahawks football team, Sea Gals cheerleaders and members of the Seahawks organization met with soldiers from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Manchu Field here for an informal meet and greet event Oct 9.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, defensive end Greg Scruggs, linebacker Bobby Wagner, five of the Sea Gals and Blitz, the team mascot, signed autographs, posed for photographs and mingled with the ‘Raiders’, as the soldiers of 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. are known.
“The players really wanted to come out and thank the servicemembers,” said Armando Mejia, a fan development international outreach manager with the Seahawks organization.
According to Mejia, the Seahawks teamed up with the United Services Automobile Association, an Official Military Appreciation Sponsor to the National Football League. Acting in partnership with USAA, they selected and adopted the ‘Raiders’ as their unit.
“Our goal is to bring the NFL to the military,” said John Hancock, USAA military communications manager and a retired Air Force master sergeant with 20 years of service.
Every day we’ve had the chance to say ‘thank you’ to our military, he continued. We want to extend that opportunity to the American public and the NFL fan, Hancock explained, to allow them to show their appreciation for the sacrifices service members make every day.
“It’s pretty spectacular, all the things you do for us,” said Russell Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback as he addressed the soldiers at the conclusion of activities.
I was just thinking about how blessed I am, and my teammates here are, to play the game of football, he continued.
“We wouldn’t be where we are right now without you,” Wilson said.
“The Seattle Seahawks, Sea Gals included, want to thank you.”
The Seahawks presented a game ball, trophy and ‘12th man’ flag to the Raiders, which signified the beginning of a partnership between the ‘Raiders’ and the football team.
“There are eleven players on the field, the fans are the 12th man,” said Mejia. The soldiers can take the flag on deployment with them, he added, and we hope it will be a great morale-booster.
The 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. ‘Raiders’ are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the near future in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The brigade’s Color Casing ceremony is scheduled to take place here Oct. 18.