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Supporting a Super Parade

Washington Guard members escort Seattle Seahawks players and officials in a celebration attended by 700,000
Seahawks receivers were among those who held the Lombardi Trophy during the parade in Seattle on February 5. Photo by Gary Lott
Seahawks receivers were among those who held the Lombardi Trophy during the parade in Seattle on February 5. Photo by Gary Lott

SEATTLE When the Seattle Seahawks celebrated their triumphant performance in the Super Bowl with a parade in front of 700,000 screaming fans through the streets of Seattle, they were accompanied by another team known for its strong defenders: the Washington National Guard. 

Guard members were on hand to escort the players, Coach Pete Carroll and his staff, General Manager John Schneider, and team owner Paul Allen as they waved, pumped their fists and kissed the Lombardi Trophy in front of throngs that lined Fourth Avenue on Feb. 5. 

In addition to the Guard members, Washington had 5-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV) Troop Carriers, Standard Humvees and Light Armored Humvees assisting in the escort. 

Besides transporting the team, the Guard supported local law authorities in an effort to keep the huge crowd safe. Even though the crowd quickly grew past the estimated 400,000, not a single major injury or arrest was reported in this organized chaos.

Braving subfreezing temperatures, the fans cheered the parade as it made its way through the city's downtown toward a celebration at CenturyLink Field. State politicians, including Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other VIPs, rode ahead of the Guard in the city's iconic Ride the Ducks of Seattle amphibious tour vehicles. 

Seattle's first Super Bowl victory parade didn't involve the Washington National Guard because of the vehicles’ cool factor. It happened because of an ongoing statewide relationship and community outreach effort between the Guard and the Seahawks.

"The Seahawks and the Sounders FC [of Major League Soccer] are proud partners and supporters of the Guard, with activities like this taking place throughout the year," says Mike Flood, Seahawks vice president of community relations. "We salute Washington National Guard service members and families for the dedication to our country and the great state of Washington!"

Community outreach is one of the major priorities of Major General Bret D. Daugherty, adjutant general and director of Washington's military department. The Guard stood proud next to the Seahawks during many statewide community outreach efforts.

"We are so honored that the Seahawks and the Seafair organization asked us to help out with this celebration," says Daugherty. "Our men and women wear many hats. They're protectors of our state, defenders of our nation and some of the most committed 12th MAN fans you'll ever meet. We are pleased to play such an important role in [the] parade."

The Recruiting and Retention Battalion of the Washington National Guard has worked closely with the Seahawks organization for years. The Guard has placed static military vehicles before games at CenturyLink, conducted re-enlistment ceremonies on the field, and coordinated with NFL players to join High School Player Development (HSPD) events with high schools throughout the state. The NFL HSPD program works to incorporate the leadership and responsibility framework of the Guard/military among high school athletes, as well as champion the military through recruitment presentations.

"As the battalion commander for [a unit in] this city and a season ticket holder since day one, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget," says Lieutenant Colonel Adam Iwaszuk, 181st Brigade Support Battalion commander. "Getting to experience the unimaginable dream of walking down Seattle, holding the Vince Lombardi championship trophy, is something I will forever cherish."