|Fullback Ahmard Hall, a former U.S. Marine, led a group of Titans players on a recent visit to Fort Campbell, home of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.|
Fort Campbell, located on the Kentucky/Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Ky. And Clarksville, Tenn., supports the third-largest military population in the Army and the seventh-largest in the Department of Defense. Reminiscing on their military backgrounds, Titans players felt a strong bond with the soldiers and relished the opportunity to represent the franchise on base.
"Personally, it's always good to come back and fellowship with my brothers," said Ahmard Hall, Titans fullback and former U.S. Marine Sergeant.
An informal, cordial welcome started the day at the Engagement Skills Trainer Marksmanship Facility. It was a visit that tested the players' shooting skills, using a variety of gun simulators. The facility is used to teach soldiers the proper safety techniques and skills needed to fire all weapon types, ranging from M16 rifles to MK19 40mm grenade machines, on a simulated target range. But it was the visit to the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital (BACH) that captured the hearts of the players as they were able to spend time with soldiers receiving occupational and physical therapy from injuries sustained in battle. The soldiers, known as "Warriors in Transition," appeared quite optimistic, despite enduring painful injuries.
"It's important to us to be uplifting patients' spirits, trying to be a diversion and taking their minds off more serious things going on in their life," stated Hall. "Trying to connect with them and let them know we care about what's going on."
Hall served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Sergeant and was deployed to Afghanistan. He attributes a significant amount of his character to his experience in the U.S. Marines.
"I'm a veteran myself," he said. "I served four years in the Marines, so it means a little more to me, because I connect personally with the people on the base."
After mingling with the troops during lunch, the Titans visited with players from the Fort Campbell High School football team, which has captured the State Championship the last three years.
Each Titan shared their personal story of how they made it to the NFL. The FCHS players were inspired by the personal encouragement by the Titans and had multiple questions relating to the NFL. Titans players instilled the importance of making the most of their opportunities, studying hard in school and transitioning their dreams into reality. Much of the words shared reiterated the principles that were branded on a banner in the cafeteria that read, "RESPECT." In addition, Titans cheerleaders visited with the FCHS cheerleading squad to share their own personal stories of inspiration.
Afterwards, the players received their final welcomes of the day at the Army and Airforce Exchange Service, also known as the PX. The 160,000 square foot facility is the largest military PX in the world. Cheering fans welcomed the Titans as they entered the PX waving and smiling to the fans that were lined up anxiously awaiting to get autographed footballs, posters and bumper stickers.
"A lot of people don't have the opportunity to come to a Titans game, so for us to come out here to see them, spend time with them, sign autographs and take photos with them is rewarding," said Hall.
Quotes provided by WKRN News 2