Home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and several other military installations, Northeast Florida is a proud military town. The Jacksonville Jaguars are committed to year-round support of these local heroes, but in particular called attention to their sacrifices during the NFL's annual Salute to Service campaign. Jaguars players, coaches, cheerleaders, alumni and staff took the chance to say thank you with an entire week of events and activities leading up to the annual military appreciation game at EverBank Field on Nov. 13.
On Monday, the Jaguars Foundation and players, including T.J. Yeldon and A.J. Cann, hosted the "Stars and Strikes" bowling event on site at Naval Station Mayport for 200 active duty Navy and Coast Guard members and their families. On Tuesday, players took a behind-the-scenes tour of NAS Jacksonville during a visit to Wing 11. Jaguars linemen Kelvin Beachum, Patrick Omameh and others toured a Boeing P-8A Poseidon with Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16), participated in a meet-and-greet and had lunch in the Galley with servicemen and women.
On Tuesday night, Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson also hosted a private movie screening of the new animated film "Trolls" for 75 children and their military family members. Jackson partnered with Helping Hands for Freedom, an organization supporting military children and families facing injury, loss and deployment.
Wednesday saw Jaguars players including Allen Hurns and Paul Posluszny test their video game skills against representatives from the Army and Marines stationed here and abroad in a "Pro vs. G.I. Joe" Joint Forces Initiative event at EverBank Field. With the help of Microsoft, the Jaguars and troops were connected live via internet to compete in video game challenges in the US Assure Club at EverBank Field.
Thursday morning Jaguars staff and Jaxson de Ville took a tour of the K9s for Warriors headquarters here in Ponte Vedra Beach. K9s for Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability and traumatic brain injury. The Jaguars also donated funds to assist warriors with groceries and meals during their time at the facility living and training with their new service dog.
On Veteran's Day itself, the Jaguars took part in the City of Jacksonville's Veterans Day Parade. Leading the way were the Jaguars D-Line and JAX Pack members. Riding on the float alongside Jaxson de Ville and members of the ROAR were alumni players and military veterans from the Five Star Veterans Center. In their final event of the week before game day, Jaguars Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee joined forces with local nonprofit St. Michael's Soldiers to assist in stuffing, packing and shipping care packages to deployed men and women. The Jaguars donated footballs, Nike bags and Jaguars memorabilia to fill the boxes.
During the Salute to Service game, the Jaguars brought patriotism and pageantry to the game day atmosphere at EverBank Field. The Jaguars, alongside generous corporate and individual donors, partnered with the Greater Jacksonville Area USO to send 5,000 active, retired and reservist military personnel and their families to today's game versus the Houston Texans.
In addition, the Jaguars continued their traditional game day military honors by recognizing the Hometown Hero and the 4th Quarter Bell Ringer, as well as the Veteran of the Game, retired Navy Rear Admiral Victor Gilroy. Halftime at the game featured a special mass enlistment ceremony, as 200 recruits representing all five branches of the U.S. military took the oath of enlistment.