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Annual Sea Hawkers Banquet honors military

Military Seahawks fans join in the party

A National Anthem trumpeter performance is given by retired marine, Mark Ceccarelli, during the annual Sea Hawkers Booster Club for the Seattle Seahawks Annual Banquet held at the Hilton Bellevue on Armed Forces Day, May 21. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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This year's Sea Hawkers Booster Club Annual Banquet was held on Armed Forces Day in the Bellevue Hilton Hotel's Grand Ballroom and held back no stops in honoring the military during the festive evening.

"They did an outstanding job this year with all of the dedications to the servicemembers in attendance, and tributes to deployed and fallen servicemembers," said retired U.S. Army member, Kevin McMains.

The Sea Hawkers are the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks football team and are broken up into multiple chapters across the nation, and globe.

Becoming a member can lead to new friendships and opportunities, and the member fees help to set up events throughout the year such as: monthly club meetings; access to the Sea Hawkers "tailgate zone"; draft day celebrations; annual picnics and more.

However, there are no member fees to veterans and servicemembers to join their very own official sub-chapter of the Sea Hawkers - the Military Sea Hawkers.

"With our military (booster) chapter, the Military Sea Hawkers, being the largest bar none, I see this as a very large family," said McMains.  "First off, I see that with the Sea Hawkers and the Seahawks supporting our military, and also that they're like an involved family because they actually reach out, and when you reach out, they're there."

McMains has been an avid member of the Military Sea Hawkers for years, but this was his first Sea Hawkers Annual Banquet and he wasn't just there as a very special guest on Armed Forces Day.

A volunteer request email was sent out through the Military Sea Hawkers looking for a color guard and National Anthem performer for the banquet, and McMains was one of the first three needed to answer the call.

"I did it because I worked at a combat hospital and I witnessed dozens of men not come home and hundreds of men come home severely injured or wounded," said McMains about why he chose to volunteer to the email request.  "So for me it was an opportunity and honor to represent all of them in carrying the colors."

With this year's annual event being held on Armed Forces Day purposely to provide even more honor to the military, it comes as no surprise that veterans would quickly answer the call to pay tribute to their brethren.

McMains was joined on his color guard duties for the event with another retired Army veteran, David Kelly, and retired marine, Mark Ceccarelli, who performed, as a trumpeter, the National Anthem to kick off the banquet.

Along with numerous raffle prizes to win, attendees of the event enjoyed a full buffet, appearances by the Seahawks' Blue Thunder, Seagals cheerleaders, Blitz the Seahawk mascot, and numerous active Seahawks players.

Even NFL Hall of Famer Walter Jones was in attendance and took photos and signed some Seahawks swag items for the volunteer color guard members during the Sea Hawkers banquet.

"We have a heavy military involvement with having a worldwide military chapter with more than two thousand members in it," said the new President of the Central Council Sea Hawkers Booster Club, Paul Gates, whose father retired from the U.S. Army.  "We picked the day (Armed Forces Day) specifically to have heavy military inclusion, as well as to show our support as central council, the Sea Hawkers Booster Club and as the Seahawks, that we do appreciate the military and all that they do."

Although there were numerous tributes throughout the evening for the military, there was one special surprise tribute that honored the volunteer veterans for their assistance with the Sea Hawkers banquet.

"We were totally surprised and it's going to be awesome to go and watch them, especially since they're number one in the division," said McMains about the Seattle Mariners tickets in his hand.

Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver and "military brat," Jermaine Kearse and his 15 to 1 Jermaine Kearse Foundation, provided signed autographs and a pair of complimentary Seattle Mariners tickets for an upcoming game to the three assisting veterans.

The most emotional moment of the banquet might have come when a Gold Star Wife, someone who lost their spouse to combat, got on stage and detailed her growth and resiliency after her loss.

To learn more about the Sea Hawkers Booster Club, visit

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