The Navy Region Northwest military unit was formally adopted by the Seahawks and the USAA atop CenturyLink Field on the Toyota Fan Deck for the fifth annual "Change of Command" ceremony Tuesday.
Rear Admiral Gary Mayes, commander of the unit, accepted the honor from Lieutenant Colonel Scott Reed of the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion-Bangor.
"I just wanted to say thank you so much to the Seahawks and USAA and the Sea Gals for recognizing us and partnering with us over the last year," Lt. Col. Reed said before transitioning the honor to Mayes. "We benefited quite a bit from it getting out to training camps, getting out to a couple of games with some great seats the USAA provided. It's been a great ride. As Marines, this is something we don't get an opportunity to do very often, most of our bases are in places that people don't want to live, so to be able to be stationed up here and then to additionally be able to partner with the Seahawks has been great. We really appreciate it."
Navy Region Northwest became the fifth military unit to partner with the Seahawks since the team began the initiative in 2012. In the recognition ceremony, Reed conducted the change of command, where an outgoing commander formally transitions responsibility and authority of a unit to a new commander.
"The Navy is excited about this honor that is being bestowed upon us," Commander Mayes said. "USAA, I am happy that you are sponsoring this event and I look forward to working with the Seahawks. As the year progresses, we plan to take the flag all over the region, which makes up 11 states. We're going to get it on carriers, we're going to get it in the air, we're going to get it on subs and below the surface of the sea. On behalf of the 37,000 sailors and civilians that make up Navy Region Northwest, I accept the [12 Flag].
"This shows that the military is involved in its community," Mayes later continued. "A lot of the sailors and marines that you see out here are Seahawks fans. This is a great venue to show that connection between the military and those organizations that support the military such as the Seahawks."
Said former Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer: "The military and football have such a special connection because those locker rooms are very similar in a lot of ways.
"That team aspect of everybody playing for the man on his left and right, or fighting for the man on his left and right in football and in the military are very similar. It's a cool connection."
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 11.8 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families.
Seahawks rookies, along with defensive end Michael Bennett, the Sea Gals and mascot Blitz conducted the presentation in front of 150 men and women from the Navy Region Northwest unit as well as the Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion crew. Service members gathered and enjoyed food and beverages provided by Papa Johns and Coca Cola.
Bennett certainly made the flag cermony entertaining, to say the least, engaging with the crowd by igniting the team's "Sea-hawks!" chant, singing Adele, along with signing autographs and taking pictures throughout the day. All Seahawks reps did the same minus the singing portion.
Bennett, whose father served 10 years in the Navy, greatly thanked those in attendance.
"I grew up in a military family … I understand all that you guys do, what you guys go through for your family," Bennett said. "I appreciate you guys' service because without you guys nothing would be possible. All the things we enjoy about America … all of the things we get to do is because of your service, your sacrifice, and we just want to say thank you."
The Seahawks adopted a new military unit for the 2016 season on Tuesday, October 11 at CenturyLink Field in a USAA 'Change of Command' ceremony that saw U.S. Navy, Region Northwest accept the honor from U.S. Marine Corps, Security Force Battalion, Bangor WA.