They come from near and far, dyed in the wool Seahawks fans and those new to the Blue. What they have in common is their day job: they all stand behind the Stars & Stripes, and on Saturday they will come together under the 12 flag to deliver the names of the Seahawks new draftees.
They are the nine men and women from the five military service branches who've been selected to be Seattle announcers at the NFL Draft Day 3 festivities at Joint Base Lewis-McChord presented by USAA.
While the Seahawks have long worked closely with local military, this marks the first time the team has held a Draft Day event at an installation.
"We've gone down to JBLM before, for homecomings of Army and Air Force groups coming home from deployment," says Mike Flood, VP Community Relations. He credits fan development assistant director Armando Mejia with proposing and planning the event.
"In terms of an all-day Seahawks event," adds Flood, "this is the biggest one we've done down there, and it involves all five services, so it's great from that regard."
Service member bios are available here and it's clear that just as the draft picks are excited to join the Seahawks, these representatives of America's finest are just as thrilled to take part.
Mother, Like Son, Now All-In
Madeline Diaz may have been born a Giants fan in Queens, N.Y., but now she's aligned with the team donning a different shade of blue. Diaz, an Army sergeant based at JBLM, is scheduled to announce Seattle's first pick on Saturday.
"If you're a solider, you make the most of any opportunity; you run with it," she shares. "I feel blessed and honored, and I love to do anything that supports our unit, so I'm looking forward to it."
Diaz has twice beaten thyroid cancer. This will not be her first public speaking assignment; she loves it, last month emceeing a St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser toward childhood cancer research. She says when fellow soldiers and friends find out about her announcer role, they are excited, even a bit envious. However no one's more energized than her 3 ½ year-old son.
"My boy loves the Seahawks, bottom line," she says. "He's already a diehard fan, with shirts he wears and stickers in his room. Every time we drive down the street or we're in a store and he sees a Seahawks emblem, he goes, 'Sea-HAWKS.'"
In a couple years or so, Diaz plans to retire from the service and, after completing her master's, teach for a local high school. That is to say, she's going all-in as a Washingtonian, and a 12.
"The Seahawks, the blue and the green, are going to become part of my life," she exclaims, adding, "Go HAWKS!"
Unabashedly Flying Seahawks Colors
Michael Langdon cannot divulge exactly where he was when word of his announcer selection reached him. Suffice to say, he was airborne and on an overseas mission. "My squadron had been trying to get ahold of me, and it caught me out of left field when they said I'd been chosen."
For Langdon, an Air Force captain and pilot, this represents one more chance to intertwine his service and his lifelong devotion to the Seahawks. Before being stationed at JBLM, for years he flocked to road games, sometimes baring blue and green body paint. Two years ago, during a Monday night game versus the Saints, he proudly wore his jersey while flying a sortie.
Now his journey of service has brought him back to his hometown team. Langdon was raised in Des Moines and attended Federal Way's Christian Faith High School.
"I'm just a diehard fan," says Langdon. "We were all pretty heartbroken in February, but it's cool to have a fresh start, a silver lining, and I'm excited on draft day to play a small part in where we go from here."
In Seattle She Found Her Team
There are over 50 chapters of Military Sea Hawkers located around the world. From those, one service member was named a Draft Day 3 announcer. Yet when Mila Lucina got the phone call, words escaped her.
"I was pretty overwhelmed. Actually I was speechless," recalls the Navy chief. When Lucina arrived in Seattle three yeas ago, although a longtime football fan, she had yet to find a team worthy of her loyalty. Suddenly she became smitten with the Seahawks and their rookie quarterback and receiver, Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.
"Whenever they play, I'm on that," Lucina exclaims. "I participate in the Seahawks Runs and volunteered for We Day." She holds up the high-achieving yet humble Wilson and Baldwin as role models to her two teenage sons, and identifies the traits of both the team and the Navy that hold such strong appeal.
"The brotherhood in the team itself is like the brotherhood and sisterhood we have in the Navy, of being part of a team," she says. "The Navy has helped me see that. Being both a football fanatic and seeing how (the Seahawks) play as a team, I see a lot of similarities.
USAA and the Seattle Seahawks honored members of out nation's military at the game against the New York Giants.
By this fall, Lucina, her personalized Seahawks license plates and her family must move to her next post, in San Francisco. While they will be in the backyard of a NFC West rival, she sees it as an opportunity. "Now (the Seahawks) know they have a fan in San Francisco, and I'll be (at Levi's Stadium) rooting for them in the Super Bowl."
Common Bond: Commitment to Community
Coded as a reservist, Ryan Olson has spent the past number of years on active duty as Coast Guard Petty Officer. After growing up in Olympia, he's now stationed at Naval Base Everett. Saturday's announcing duties obviously represent a departure from tending to his typical weekend responsibilities such as volunteer fireman or feeding goats and chickens at his Snohomish County home in Oso.
Olson's commitment to the Coast Guard and his community was unwavering this past year. He was a leader in eight expeditionary operations. As a fireman, he volunteered more than 300 hours toward rescue and recovery in the hours and weeks following the Oso Mudslide. Not long before learning of his Draft Day 3 involvement, Olson was chosen from nominees nationwide as USCG Reserve Enlisted Member of the Year.
"It's a huge honor and one of the most humbling experiences of my military career," says Olson. He adds that the opportunity to become part of the Seahawks organization, if only for one day, holds significance as well.
"I've always followed the Seahawks and one of my favorite things about them is their commitment to community," offers Olson, citing everything from the 12 Flag raisings to myriad player hospital visits and fundraisers.
"The Seahawks, more than any other team, have really become Seattle and the Pacific Northwest's team. They're a great organization to be part of, whether partnering with the military or other community organizations. So this is a great opportunity for me to represent the Coast Guard as it supports the Seahawks."
An avid college football fan and Husky season ticket holder, Olson enjoys following the player combines and Draft Day deal-making and jockeying for position. Come Saturday, he will have excellent command of the situation. And when it comes time grab the mic and call that newest Seahawks' name, just as he is in serving his country and his community, as an announcer, Olson will be up to the task.