A crowded room with many TVs, fans young and old wearing their favorite jerseys, barbecue, beverages, professional cheerleaders, a DJ and other entertainment sounds like a Super Bowl party being thrown at a lavish Hollywood nightclub, however it was held in a spot one wouldn't typically picture and the stars present did not have names everyone knew. This party was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. to honor some very special Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. The event Saturday, February 5th, was the 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior Pre- Super Bowl Party.
This party was for the Paratroopers that couldn't watch the Super Bowl from the comfort of their own living rooms or favorite sports bar. This was for the battle injured heroes with prosthetics, eye- patches, wheelchairs, and healing wounds.
Lisa Weiss, the head of the 82nd Airborne Division Wounded Warrior Committee, was primarily responsible for organizing the event.
"We started this event three years ago to bring a little bit of the 82nd to the Wounded Warriors," Weiss said fighting back tears. "To see how far they've come, to see their progress and attitude, it's astounding."
"We wanted to show the guys that we remember them and that we still care," said Col. Brian Mennes, commander of the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade combat team.
"Once an All American, always an All American," stated Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Watters. "This was a chance to show our support, to show our love."
Mennes and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Sturdevant, the commander and command sgt. maj. from 4th BCT shared opening statements on behalf of the Division leadership, Chaplain Watters gave the invocation, and then party kicked off with The All American Chorus performing some of their favorite numbers.
"It's an honor to be here performing for these guys. It's nice to see the other side, these (Paratroopers) recuperating," said Spc. Andrew Madison, combat medic who joined the chorus after returning from Afghanistan this past summer.
During the party the Wounded Warriors, their families and the division representatives enjoyed eating barbecue, fellowship, talking football, and taking pictures with Washington Redskin cheerleaders, Talmesha and Lindsey who also signed autographs.
Talmesha said," it means the world to us to participate in these events. It's nice to be able to give back to the troops."
The Wounded Warriors were presented with 82nd Airborne Division jerseys, various coins and other division paraphernalia by the 82nd Association and command representatives.
Many Paratroopers in division feel that even though these Paratroopers are not currently standing in the division's formations, they are standing proudly, living the legacy of past division heroes.
Sturdevant, said "I do believe our division forefathers would be proud of these heroes. We wanted to continue that legacy and show that when you join the Airborne, you are in for life."
"The 82nd has set the standard in how we treat our Wounded Warriors," Sturdevant said. "We owe this and more to them. I'm honored and privileged to be here representing the command."
Spc. Kyle McNamara, a Wounded Warrior from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, said "It's good to see our chain of command supporting us versus forgetting about us."
To close out the event, by popular demand, the All American Chorus performed a second time.
"Their performance gave me goose bumps," Weiss stated.