Military major part of Seahawks' NFC Championship game

By Gary Lott on January 19, 2015

Staff Sgt. Jerimiah Adkins remembers quite clearly how he learned to love the Seattle Seahawks.

"When I was younger, we didn't have a whole lot, but on game days we would all get together and crowd around our little TV and watch the game," he recalled. "During those two hours or so, nothing else mattered, just football."

Unfortunately, Adkins wasn't able to crowd around those same family members and that same little television to watch the Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday during the NFC Championship game.

The reason isn't because he is now stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

It's because Adkins, who's with 3rd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, was sitting in the stands of CenturyLink Field watching the game alongside a record breaking 68,538 screaming fans.

>>> Staff Sgt. Jerimiah Adkins

>>> Servicemembers from all branches give a quick cheer for the Seattle Seahawks inside one of the tunnels of CenturyLink Field before conducting the color guard and flag holding duties for the national anthem ceremony of the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field, Jan. 18, 2015. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha shakes the hand of Sgt. 1st Class Travis Medberry, as well as the hands of every other servicemember participating in the Seahawks Salute anthem ceremony taking place before the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field, Jan. 18, 2015. Photo credit: Gary Lott

There may have been moments in yesterday's game that may not have seemed so champion-esque, but prior to one of the most exciting games in NFL history concluded - and even before it started - it was all fireworks for servicemembers from all branches around (and above) CenturyLink Field.

The Seattle Seahawks have kept the military a priority this season, even after winning last year's Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLVIII.

"I think it's important because it's always nice to give back to the fans that support this team so passionately," said Adkins. "For a lot of the 12s out there, this isn't just a team, it's part of who we are.  For me being in the military, regardless of where I was, there was always the Seahawks."

The Seahawks Salute campaign goes above and beyond just having servicemembers on the field holding the flag.

If you happened to be in attendance during the big game, then it would have been hard to miss the military flyovers that took place immediately following the national anthem performance by American Idol and Scorpion star Katharine McPhee.

Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five important flyovers took place: Two EA-18G Growlers and one MH-60 Seahawk, from the VAQ-130s Zappers and the Patriots of VAQ-140, Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, conducted the flyover prior to the game.

The MH-60 Seahawk helicopter is from NAS Whidbey Island's Search and Rescue (SAR) unit, which conducted 35 rescue, medical evacuation and search missions that saved 47 lives in the area in just the past year alone.

With a donation from the Seahawks and help from Delta Air Lines, Adkins received a phone call and was able to be flown in from Kentucky to watch the game, live and in the stands, screaming among his fellow 12 brethren. Delta Air Lines teamed with the Seahawks to select 12 deserving fans and their guests to attend the game. The fans, six of which are local and six others from outside of the state of Washington, were selected from various groups within the Seahawks' fan base - including fan clubs, kid's clubs, military relations and community groups - for their strong support of the Seahawks.

"I was in shock," Adkins said of getting the phone call that informed him about attending the NFC Championship. "I got off the phone and still had to work that night, and when I was driving to work, my hands were shaking on the steering wheel."

His hotel was also taken care of.

"It was amazing!!!" he said. "I am so humbled by being chosen. I really appreciate everything."

Adkins wasn't the only VIP service member flown in to watch the game, however.

For the second time ever, the Seahawks had a Medal of Honor recipient walking along the sidelines of CenturyLink Field with Seahawks players, celebrities like actor Chris Pratt and rapper Macklemore, and even Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Medal of Honor Recipient Clint Romesha made sure to individually shake the hands of every service member who participated in the national anthem ceremony of events known as Seahawks Salute.

The Seahawks also earmarked 20 tickets to be sold to service members for Sunday's game, and donated 10 more tickets to servicemembers.

With tickets given away for every home game (and even some away games), a section solely devoted to service members and their families to open next season, military vehicles involved throughout the year (to include flyovers and transporting players through the streets of Seattle during a Championship Parade), it's safe to say the military will always remain a priority for the Seattle Seahawks organization.

>>> Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shows his emotions while kneeling centerfield with his teammates, following a very emotional 28-22 comeback victory in overtime over the Green Bay Packers. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> What's the first thing you do after winning the NFC Championship game? You grab a Seattle Police Department bicycle and ride all over CenturyLink Field giving high-fives to SeaGal cheerleaders and everyone else, which is what Defensive End Michael Bennett did. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Doug Baldwin hoists the George Halas Trophy and points to all of the 12s fans lining the stands after the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers. Photo credit: Gary Lott

All eyes are now set on winning back-to-back championships in Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.

There should be no question that the Seahawks support the servicemembers who line the stands and maintain an intense presence that not just military 12s, but all 12s have now come to expect during every possible Seahawks moment.

That same 12s feeling brings together the community and family members and finds a way to bring out the kid in them all, even through adversity, and is similar to the characteristics that the military family holds near and dear to their hearts.

"It's still like that for me to this day, when I'm watching the game, I tune everything else out, and I'm back to being a kid again," Adkins said. "No bills, no deployments, nothing else matters."