July 2, 2014 at 8:09am
It was one hero thanking another.
The Seattle Seahawks, winners of Super Bowl XLVIII and the heroes of the fans, came to say thanks to what they called the real heroes - the military and their families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"They're the real heroes," said Armando Mejia, assistant manager with the Seahawks community relations. "We want to thank them. That's what this is all about."
Hangar 9 on McChord Field, with a C-17 Globemaster III as the backdrop, was turned into a Seahawks shrine, complete with the Lombardi Trophy, which the Seahawks won for winning the Super Bowl. The Seahawks have paraded the trophy to five military bases in the Northwest, thanking the military for their service.
"We appreciate you guys a lot," said Seahawks wide receiver Bill Bates, one of three Seahawk players at the event. "Without your support we wouldn't be here today."
Other special guests besides the Lombardi Trophy, which fans stood by and got their pictures snapped, included Seahawks linebacker Korey Toomer and cornerback DeShawn Shead. Six members of the Blue Thunder and six members of the Sea Gals also came, entertaining the crowd of about 1,000 military families.
"My kids are very excited," said Erin Philippart, who brought her three children to the Seahawks event. "It's awesome."
With her husband in the Air Force, she appreciated the thank you from the Seahawks.
"It's so awesome," Philippart said. "They've come to say thanks to the troops. It's greatly appreciated."
Col. Pete Stavros, who was at the event with his wife and children, was impressed with the Seahawks coming to JBLM, allowing the base to be part of the celebration.
"The kids get to see the trophy, which is pretty cool," said Stavros, the commander of the Western Air Defense Sector. "We're celebrating an outstanding season."
While the fans' focus was on the Seahawks, the Seahawks' focus was on thanking the military.
"For them to come down on this day it's a great statement about the relationship between the Seahawks organization and the military," said Stavros, who did a flyby over the stadium prior to the Seahawks-Dallas game in the 2012 season. "It means a lot."
Capt. Tim Slater, holding two footballs to get autographed, was among the eager fans standing in long lines waiting to get an autograph.
"It's almost hard to put into words about them coming," said Slater, who didn't miss a Seahawks game on TV last season. "That's the Lombardi Trophy. How cool is that? The Seahawks came here. It's fun."
Seahawk fans were hoping Russell Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback and team leader, would show up, but he wasn't among the Seahawks that came.
"Russell usually goes to the Children's Hospital on Tuesdays and Wednesdays," Slater said.
The Lombardi Trophy was a big attraction. There were also life-size standup posters of Seahawks Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. There were also huge cutout mug shots of coach Pete Carrol, Wilson, Sherman and Marshawn Lynch. Kids would hold up the mugs and get their pictures taken.
"We want to thank the military and their families," Mejia said. "We understand that the Super Bowl trophy is cool, but here is where it counts."
After a 30-minute presentation that included the Blue Thunder playing and the Sea Gals dancing and Tony Ventrella, the Seahawks PR director and former local TV sports announcer, interviewing the three Seahawks, asking them questions, the players began signing autographs. Long lines more than 200 deep formed and the players began signing.
It was their way of saying thanks.
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