USAA hosted 110 military members at Redskins training camp as part of their continued Salute to Service efforts on Monday, August 11, 2014.
USAA on Monday hosted 110 military members at the Washington Redskins' training camp practice as part of its continued Salute to Service efforts.
For many of the servicemen and servicewomen, the day featured several moments they had never experienced – having the opportunity to meet the Redskins, watching them practice and taking pictures with Redskins players and members of the front office.
The service members -- who are stationed at Ft. Lee, NAS Oceana and Langley Air Force Base -- were treated to a VIP Experience at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
Following a catered breakfast, the military members took to the far sideline to watch the defense go through individual drills. which included the inside linebackers pounding the sleds just feet away from them.
For Sgt. First Class Eric Dawson, it was truly awesome moment.
"It's great to see all of the players up close," he explained. "I support all of my hometown teams, especially the Redskins."
Dawson said he feels the team is bound for a great season.
"I'm seeing a lot of potential for this team this season on both sides of the ball," Dawson explained. "I see us breaking more than 8-8, that is for sure."
With practice underway, Redskins personnel also took time to personally thank the service members for their continued work.
One of those front office members was legendary Redskins quarterback Doug Williams – Super Bowl XXII MVP, and current Redskins personnel executive.
Sgt. First Class Adeel Din had a chance to meet Williams.
Din said he was taken aback by the opportunity to meet the legend.
"My favorite Redskins memory is when Doug Williams and the team beat up on Denver and we won the Super Bowl," he explained. "I took a picture with him and this was the first time I met him…This is truly awesome. My commander and Sgt. Major, they told me 'Hey, we're going to the Redskins training camp, do you want to go?' ... After a while being here – it's awesome. I have never seen something like this."
Further down the line of military was Sgt. First Class James McCulley.
McCulley – who attended Military Appreciation Day as well – was holding a picture of his family standing in front of a truck.
But this wasn't just any truck. This particular truck was decked out in Redskins colors and had '15th Anniversary Edition' on the back gate.
"It was my 15-year anniversary and my wife took the truck for two weeks and I had no idea what she was doing with it," McCulley said. "And it came back painted like this. On the tailgate it says '15th Anniversary Edition' to celebrate our 15 years together.
"I'm so thankful for my wonderful wife. She supports me 100 percent and so do the Washington Redskins."
McCulley, along with the rest of the service members, had their Redskins possessions signed by owner Dan Snyder and President and general manager Bruce Allen.
The two personally thanked each service member individually for their service and then escorted them to the sideline before practice ended.
After, they got the chance to get more autographs from the players.
"Being up close and personal? It truly doesn't get better than that," McCulley said of the experience. "This has been truly awesome. Thanks to USAA for bring us out here, and the Redskins for allowing us out here as well. They way the Redskins show their support – can't beat it."
And who was the last player to remain on the field with the troops?
None other than quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Thanking all that have served and continue to serve, the former military brat said that the troops certainly have a special place in his heart.
"Having the military here is amazing -- it's close to my heart," Griffin III said. "My mom and dad both served time and it's a different life and if you haven't lived it or experienced it, then you don't quite understand what it's like.
"I definitely take my hat off to them and am excited that they are here."