USS Bataan Sailors Rub Shoulders with Jaguars During Week of Valor

Story Number: NNS121107-04Release Date: 11/7/2012 1:51:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rob Aylward, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla (NNS) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars invited more than 300 Sailors from amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) to attend a team practice at EverBank Field Nov. 6 as part of the Week of Valor, sponsored by the city of Jacksonville, Fla.

Sailors had access to the NFL team as they prepared for their upcoming battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

At a meet-and-greet following the practice, Sailors had the opportunity to approach players for autographs and photos.

"I really enjoy watching Maurice Jones-Drew run," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Darryl Smith. "Hopefully he comes out today and he can sign my football to show off back home."

After sampling complimentary food from local restaurants, Sailors filled the stands at the practice field as Maurice Jones-Drew, a Jaguars running back, addressed the crowd.

"From the bottom of our hearts we want to thank you for all you do for us and the country," said Jones-Drew. "We know how hard it must be to be away from your families so it means a lot to have you all come spend time with us."

Many Sailors were happy to take a break and enjoy the Jaguars event before the ship completes preparations for the Navy-Marine Corps Classic basketball game scheduled for Nov. 9, on the flight deck of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship in conjunction with Jacksonville's Week of Valor.

We don't often have the chance to watch a professional team practice so I had to jump at the opportunity, said Smith. "It's a lot of work getting the Bataan ready but it will be all worth it in the end."

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Guy Whimper, Offensive Tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, signs sports memorabilia for Sailors following a Jaguars practice.
121106-N-RB564-120 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2012) Guy Whimper, Offensive Tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, signs sports memorabilia for Sailors following a Jaguars practice. More than 300 Sailors and Marines gathered in the Jaguars practice stadium to meet the players as part of the city of Jacksonville's "Week of Valor" and in preparation for the upcoming Navy-Marine Corps Classic. The game honors veterans, active and reserve service members, and military families. America's away team, the Navy and Marine Corps are reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide on, above, and below the sea as well as ashore. Join the conversation in social media using #BBallOnDeck. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary A. Prill/Released)
November 8, 2012
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