February 6, 2014 at 8:08pm
Television reports and social media have been consumed with the Seattle Seahawks' smiling faces, fist pumps and trophy kisses captured during the team's Super Bowl Championship parade. In a majority of the images, at least on the parade route down Fourth Avenue, another presence ingrained in the public's mind - the Washington National Guard. Guardsman and their vehicles - 5-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV) Troop Carriers, Standard Humvees and Light Armored Humvees - escorted the players, Coach Pete Carroll and his staff, General Manager Paul Schneider and team owner Paul Allen past more than 700,000 screaming fans - who lined the same road the Seattle Supersonics celebrated decades ago. Braving sub-freezing temperatures, the fans cheered the parade as it made its way through the city's downtown toward a celebration at CenturyLink Field. State politicians, including Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other VIPs rode ahead of the Guard in iconic Ride The Ducks of Seattle amphibious tour vehicles
Seattle's first Super Bowl victory parade didn't involve the Washington National Guard because the vehicles looked cool. It happened because of an ongoing statewide relationship and community outreach effort between the Guard and the Seahawks.
"The Seahawks and the Sounders FC, are proud partners and supporters of the Guard with activities like this taking place throughout the year," said Mike flood, Seahawks vice president of community relations. "We salute Washington National Guard service members and families for the dedication to our country and the great state of Washington!"
Community Outreach is one of the major priorities of Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty, adjutant general and director of Washington's military department. The Guard stood proud next to the Seahawks during many statewide community outreach efforts.
"We are so honored that the Seahawks and the Seafair organization asked us to help out with this celebration," said Daugherty. "Our men and women wear many hats. They're protectors of our state, defenders of our nation and some of the most committed 12th Man fans you'll ever meet. We are pleased to play such an important role in (the) parade.
Besides transporting the team, the Guard supported local law authorities in an effort to keep the huge crowd safe. Even though the crowd quickly grew past the estimated 400,000 mark to a size greater than the historic Woodstock concert, not a single major injury or arrest was reported in this organized chaos.
The Recruiting and Retention Battalion of the Washington National Guard has been a part of the Seahawks organization for years. The Guard has placed static military vehicles before games at CenturyLink, conducted re-enlistment ceremonies on the field and coordinated with NFL players to join High Speed Player Development (HSPD) events with high schools throughout the state. The NFL HSPD program works to incorporate the leadership and responsibility framework of the Guard/military among high school athletes, as well as champion the military through recruitment presentations.
"As the battalion commander for this city and a season ticket holder since day one, this was a one-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget," said Lt. Col. Adam Iwaszuk, 181 Brigade Support commander). "Getting to experience the unimaginable dream of walking down Seattle, holding the Vince Lombardi Championship trophy is something I will forever cherish."
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