News: Pro Bowl players show support to service members
Story by Staff Sgt. John Johnson
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted the National League Pro Bowl practice on Thursday, Jan. 24, which featured talented players from both the American Football Conference and National Football Conference. This year’s practice was open to all service members stationed on the island of Oahu.
Downpours and wind didn’t stop adults and children from showing their support to football favorites like Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald as they ran drills on the field. NFL players took time to show support for their fans in turn, by signing autographs and taking photos after practice.
The NFL’s efforts allowed troops to watch players practice, sign pictures, and even conduct interviews with military public affairs offices.
Air Force Staff Sgt. John Stanchfield, Hickam Fire Department, said, “It’s an experience of a life time!”
New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater, of Baldwin Park, Calif., said, “It’s just a true blessing to be on this field today, I thank God to be playing on the field in front of these soldiers. These are real heroes, a lot of people look up to us players as the heroes but I appreciate everything you guys do for the country.”
Both soldiers and Pro Bowl players were excited to meet, talk and show their mutual appreciation. Special appreciation was shown by Atlanta Falcon’s safety Thomas DeCoud of Vallejo, Calif., who grew up as a military kid.
DeCoud said, “I’ve been fulfilling a lot of my childhood dreams but there is nothing like playing for the Pro Bowl. My father was a Marine MP (military police) so the military has been a part of my life. It brought me up with that same type of discipline and attention to detail and there is nothing like playing today for the people who protect this country.”
Army Pfc. Chastoni Jones, G4, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command said, “I have never met a football player, let alone have one come out to support me and show such appreciation to the military. All the players were so nice and more than willing to give back their time to sign or take a photo with each and every military member and their families they could get to.”