FORT BENNING, Ga. - Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division welcomed 10 Atlanta Falcon football players and 10 dancers from the team's cheerleading squad to Kelley Hill on Fort Benning, June 8.

The players and dancers, who were flown to Fort Benning from Atlanta by the Georgia National Guard, ate with Soldiers at the Kelley Hill dining facility before having a meet-and-greet autograph session at the 3rd HBCT's Recreation Center.

"The organization (the Atlanta Falcons) came up with the idea to go out and show support for our Soldiers," said Chris Millman, the Community Relations and Youth Programs manager for the Falcons. "We had previously gone down to Fort Gordon and had a great time. When the idea of coming to Fort Benning came up, we thought it would be great."

Millman stressed that the trip was not forced on any of the players or cheerleaders by the Falcon's organization.

"All of them came of their own free will," he said. "This is the kind of stuff you can't replace, and these guys are making memories and hearing stories that they will carry with them for a long time."
Coy Wire, a safety for the Falcons, spoke to the Soldiers at the Recreation Center before signing autographs, encouraging them to keep a positive attitude during the brigade's upcoming deployment.

"The one thing you can always be in control of is your attitude," Wire said. "During times of adversity, whatever they may be, how you get through the situation is by being positive."

The Sledgehammer Soldiers cheered when Wire and his teammates dedicated their first game of the coming season to the Soldiers of the 3rd HBCT.

"It is a really humbling experience to see people who have such an important job get excited over us," said Justin Blalock, an offensive guard for the Falcons. "This is really just a chance to meet new people and get a new perspective on things."

The players and cheerleaders had the opportunity to sign autographs before they had to catch their flight back to Atlanta.

"The whole event is very special to them," said Millman. "It isn't everyday that they get to meet the men and women who defend our country."