By Brittany Carlson, Belvoir EagleNovember 7, 2013
Some of America's heroes met their sports heroes Saturday during a Washington Redskins Homecoming Military Meet 'n' Greet at the Fort Belvoir USO Warrior and Family Center.
More than 50 Redskins alumni, including 10 members of the Redskins' Super Bowl XXII Championship team, spent time with servicemembers and their Families eating barbecue, answering Redskins trivia questions and watching clips from the Redskins' Super Bowl XXVI game in preparation for the Redskins' annual alumni homecoming game against the San Diego Chargers the following day.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and USO of Metropolitan Washington partnered to host the event as a way for the Redskins to give back to the military community while they were in town, said Pam Horton, USO Warrior and Family Center manager.
"It's homecoming weekend for the Redskins, so they have a lot of their players here that are celebrating … and we just thought it would be a great idea for them to see the center and interact with some of our servicemembers and their Families," she said.
Mark Rypien, the Redskins quarterback named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XXVI, said he and the other alumni were honored to spend time with servicemembers at the USO.
"Participating (in this) is something that I think is very close to our hearts and we're very thankful, very grateful for all our men and women that serve our country and allow us to do the things that we're able to do," Rypien said at the start of the event. "On behalf of all of the alumni here and all the people with the Redskins organization, we just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you."
Military Families had the chance to take photos, get autographs, and talk with Redskins alumni about some of their favorite Redskins moments.
"It's definitely good to see them, including my favorite player of all time, Doug Williams. That was pretty awesome," said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Cameau, National Capital Region Information Operations Center, who just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.
"It's definitely good for me to see the players supporting the military," he added.
Military child, Curtiss Oakley, 12, had the chance to talk with Rypien and get his t-shirt signed, which he said was "crazy."
"To meet someone who's done so many things for the NFL is just kind of exciting," he said.
During their visit, Redskins alumni helped put together healthy snack packs for military Families on Fort Belvoir with notes thanking them for their service. They also handed out a surprise: 150 free tickets to Sunday's Redskins game, courtesy of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
The meet and greet was a way for the players to give back to their heroes, according to Fred Dean, offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins from 1978 to 1982.
"They are our heroes," said Dean, who played for the Redskins in Super Bowl XVII (1982), another winning year. "We've got service men and women all over the world and I just wanted to give back to show them our appreciation for serving our country and serving us."