SAN DIEGO - The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) hosted the 35th Annual Navy-Marine Corps Holiday Bowl Luncheon Dec. 23, honoring both teams competing in this year's Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
The Navy-Marine Corps Holiday Bowl Luncheon is an annual event held aboard an aircraft carrier or large deck amphibious assault ship pierside in San Diego the week of the game.
This year's bowl teams are the UCLA Bruins and the Baylor Bears.
Nearly 1,000 players, coaching staff members, school alumni and Boxer Sailors mingled in the ship's hangar bay for the event.
The program kicked off with the opening ceremony in the ship's hangar bay, which included Boxer's color guard parading the colors and Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Marqueta Rodgers singing the National Anthem. Rodgers is also scheduled to sing the anthem at the Holiday Bowl game.
"The ship and the crew have a lot in common with UCLA football and Baylor football ... we are one heck of an offensive team," said Boxer Commanding Officer, Capt. Kevin P. Flanagan during the opening ceremony to a round of applause.
While the luncheon honored both teams, attendees also took time to recognize the Navy-Marine Corps team.
"We are surrounded by another great team, a team that is bound together with words like honor, courage and commitment and that's the Navy-Marine Corps team," said Doug Abts, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development for Bridgepoint Education.
The luncheon saw the continuation of another Holiday Bowl tradition as two Boxer Sailors were selected by the teams' coaches to serve as honorary team captains. The UCLA Bruins selected native Californian Air-Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW/SW) Camdon Logan, while native Texan Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Jorge Garcia will join the Baylor Bears. Both Sailors will have the opportunity to sit with their respective teams at the game and participate in the game's opening coin toss.
"I was excited, surprised and happy when I was told I was going to be a Bear's honorary captain," said Garcia, who grew up a Bear's fan. "This was a great event and I am looking forward to the game," he added.
After the lunch, guests toured the ship and viewed static displays on the flight deck.
The game kicks off at 6:45 p.m., Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium.