SAN DIEGO – Sailors from amphibious dock landing ships USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and USS San Diego (LPD 22) competed in flag football match on one of Qualcomm Stadium’s practice field, Aug. 9, to kick off the San Diego Chargers’ 24th annual Salute to the Military game.
Fans yelled from the sidelines as San Diego crushed Green Bay 34-0. The Sailors from both sides felt the limelight of professional athletes as media interviewed them.
“We are two competitive teams, but it did not go how I expected. I thought we would be blowing them out,” said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class (SW) Anthony Ware, a Green Bay Sailor. “I’m just glad to be out here. I wanted to play a good and competitive game and it’s been a good time.
The two ships mirrored their battle with their namesake cities’ NFL teams, San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, who played a preseason game later that evening at Qualcomm Stadium. Chargers would win 21-13 with a total of 55,527 people in attendance.
“It’s such an honor. I’ve never done anything like this, so I’m amped up,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd (SW) Alfred Thomas, a San Diego Sailor. “I was expecting to totally dominate them, but they put up a good fight.”
After their flag football game, the Sailors attended the preseason game where Armed Forces service members were honored and participated in the pregame ceremonies.
“I think it’s wonderful that they [the Chargers] have this night. It’s really a great event,” said Madeline Hoeg, football fan. “It feels good to show our national pride. It’s really fun and great for everyone.”
The color guards from all branches presented colors from the center of the field as the national anthem Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Marqueta Rodgers, stationed?? The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band also performed during the opening ceremonies and 100 Sailors and Marines unveiled a jumbo flag.
Professional football players also met the Sailors as they came onto the field.
“I got to shake hands with a lot of service members who carried the flag on the side lines before the game,” said Aaron Rodgers, Packers lead quarterback. “I have a lot of respect for the men and women in uniform in all branches of the military. It’s great to see them out there.”
The halftime show included a Navy Band and an opportunity for fans to visit static military displays provided by the ships Green Bay, San Diego, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), as well as Assault Craft Unit Five and Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Sailors working at the displays expressed appreciation for the chance to interact with the community.
“It feels good when [people] show an interest about our ship and [I can] show them what the Navy is doing for them,” said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) Sergo Ceniceros, a San Diego Sailor.
Green Bay’s area displayed replicas of Super Bowl trophies including a new 2011-2012 trophy signed by Aaron Rodgers, presented to the ship’s crew by Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.
“It’s a nice keepsake for them and something we want to share with them because USS Green Bay is a big part of our community,” Schmitt said.
The community continues to find ways to highlight and interact with their military counterparts throughout the year. This event provides a unique opportunity to challenge and display camaraderie.