Members of the Seattle Seahawks visited the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 19 to officially kick off a season-long partnership.

Since 2012 the Seahawks have partnered with a military service each season, and this season the team selected the 1st SFG (A).

The 1st SFG (A) commander, Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, accepted the 12th Man flag from U.S. Navy representative, Rear Admiral Gary Mayes, commander of Navy Region Northwest in an informal change of command ceremony.

"Today is about partnership," Beaurpere said to the more than 200 Soldiers and sailors in attendance. "Two teams come together to join in the spirit of competition and commitment to service. On one side, you have our nation's most elite athletes with a passion for a sport and a commitment to excellence. On the other side, you have a national treasure in the men and women who choose to serve their Nation and protect our liberties."

Before the change of command ceremony, the Seahawks visited the 1st SFG (A) compound, reflecting at the Group's memorial wall which bears the names of its fallen Soldiers.

"It was an honor to see that memorial," said Shaquill Griffin, rookie cornerback for the Seahawks. "It shows the respect they have for their fallen members."

The Seahawks received a tour of the Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning (THOR3) facility where the 1st SFG (A) trains its Soldiers to be tactical athletes as well as providing them with resources such as nutritional guidance, strength training instructors and physical therapy. The team was given an in-depth demonstration of what goes into a typical workout including navigating difficult obstacles while wearing heavy body armor and finishing with a simulated stress fire exercise.

Afterwards team members signed autographs and posed for pictures. The lines stretched out of the facility as service members gathered to have footballs, jerseys and other memorabilia signed as a memento of the special occasion. Mutual admirations were exchanged between players and service members.

"I felt like I wanted autographs from them," Griffin said.

"Having the Seahawks visit was an amazing and humbling experience," said Sgt. Shai Maya Dawson, a 1st SFG (A) human resource specialist. "Knowing that they appreciate us as much as we appreciate them was definitely something I will always remember."

The day included static displays of military freefall parachutes, scuba equipment and un-manned aerial capabilities, as well as a MH-47 Chinook and MH-60L Black Hawk helicopters provided by the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The visit concluded with Beaurpere thanking every member of the Seahawks and their staff for visiting JBLM and 1st SFG (A).

As the players boarded the bus to depart, handshakes and well wishes were exchanged as members of each team bid the other good luck in the upcoming season and on future missions.