Super Bowl Mania Spreads to Camp Atterbury

146

By Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs

EDINBURGH, Ind. – Football fans at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center had unique visitors today, as seven NFL football players from various teams and a group of Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders made an appearance for the NFL Salute to Service Military Appreciation event here.

The group consisted of three players from the Indianapolis Colts, as well as players from the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, and the New York Jets. The event was unique for Super Bowl week in that instead of being designed to celebrate the sport of football, the purpose was for the National Football League to show their support of America’s warfighters and their families by celebrating them.

Three players from the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, and New York Jets signed autographs for Soldiers and their families.
Three players from the Indianapolis Colts, as well as players from the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, and the New York Jets signed autographs for Soldiers and their families.

“This is huge for the morale of Soldiers here training to deploy to combat,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Spade, Arlington, Ohio native and Camp Atterbury Command Sgt. Maj. “An event like this makes these guys feel like someone truly care about what they are doing to serve their country.” The event consisted of several activities, to include a question and answer session with players, autograph-signing session, live music from the local band, Band Wagon and more, giving Soldiers a much-needed break from their demanding training schedules.

Will Witherspoon, Tennessee Titans offensive linebacker, accepts a plaque from Col. Todd Townsend, Camp Atterbury post commander, for all the NFL players who attended the NFL Salute to Service military appreciation event.
Will Witherspoon (left), offensive linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, accepts a plaque from Col. Todd Townsend, Camp Atterbury post commander, in appreciation for all the NFL players who attended the NFL Salute to Service military appreciation event.

“This gives the Soldiers a way to unwind for a bit and relax,” said Spade. “That way, they can rest not only their bodies, but their minds for a bit, which allows them to refocus. We end up with better training in the end.”

According to Spade, almost two months of planning went into the event. ” People from our Morale, Welfare, and Recreation section; Public Affairs Office; Joint Simulations Training and Education Center; the NFL; Cibus Catering, Provost Marshall and many others all had a part in making this happen,” said Spade.

The effort was not lost on the Soldiers who attended. Staff Sgt. Jeff Bradbury, Portage, Ind. and administration specialist at the Patriot Academy, got there early to make sure he was able to get himself and his family at the very front of the autograph line. “This is freakin’ awesome!” said Bradbury. “It’s great to see the NFL doing something like this for the military community. People are flying in from all over the country for the Super Bowl and these guys are coming to us!”

Indiana Adjutant General Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger speaks to Soldiers and families at the NFL Salute to Service at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center.
Indiana Adjutant General Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger speaks to Soldiers and families who attended the NFL Salute to Service at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Jacob Tamme, tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, was among the players who attended the event. He said, “I got a heart that is extremely thank for what (servicemembers) do for our country, and I want to shake as many hands as I can today.”

Tennessee Titans Offensive Linebacker Will Witherspoon autographs a jersey for Meagan Lewis, of Spencer County, Tennessee, at the National Football League Salute to Service event, Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
Tennessee Titans Offensive Linebacker Will Witherspoon autographs a jersey for Meagan Lewis, of Spencer County, Tennessee, during the National Football League’s Salute to Service event held at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.

Another Indianapolis Colt in attendance was linebacker A.J. Edds. Edds grew up in Greenwood, Ind, about 20 minutes away from Camp Atterbury. “I’m very thankful for the dedication, the service, the way you put your country first,” Edds said as he was addressing the Soldiers at the event. “You guys are out there defending our country and guys like us are here playing games because of people like you. We appreciate everything you do.”

Nearly 2,000 Soldiers and their families, to include Soldiers from the Wounded Warrior program as well as Blue and Gold Star families, all attended the event, making it a huge success for the Indiana National Guard and the NFL. It was an especially fortunate opportunity for many of the deploying and redeploying Soldiers aboard the base that are unable to leave the confines of Camp Atterbury to attend the Super Bowl, despite being only 45 minutes away. This means that despite the demands of their service, these Soldiers have still had an opportunity to participate in all of the excitement that surrounds the Super Bowl.

The National Football League Salute to Service event shows appreciation to troops at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
The National Football League held a Salute to Service event to show appreciation to troops at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
Sgt. Jason Williams, and Spc. Sam Fischer, from Albuquerque, NM, and Spc. Maguire Tanney, of Las Cruces, toss footballs at the National Football League Salute to Service event at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
Sgt. Jason Williams, of Albuquerque, N.M., Spc. Sam Fischer, also from Albuquerque, N.M., and Spc. Maguire Tanney, of Las Cruces, N.M., toss footballs at the National Football League’s Salute to Service event held at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.

By Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs