By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eduardo T. Otero, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Five members of the National Football League’s (NFL) Indianapolis Colts visited the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as part of a United Services Tour (USO) tour, Feb. 18.
Players Pat McAfee, Mike Adams, Anthony Castonzo, D’Qwell Jackson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano met with crewmembers during an autograph session and visited the ship’s flight deck, hangar bay and signal bridge.
“Events like these make Sailors happy because they’re a long way from home,” said Momoyo Harris, Reagan afloat recreational specialist. “They don’t get to see the players very often or go to the stadiums, so to have the players actually come to the ship and be able to see them in person makes a world of difference. It’s like bringing over a piece of America.”
According to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Hayley Woodward, from Mesa, Arizona, meeting professional NFL players aboard the ship was a memorable and exciting experience.
“I’ve always been a big fan,” said Woodward. “Getting to meet some of my favorite players and knowing that they came all the way here to see us doing what we do every day felt amazing.”
According to Pat McAfee, Colts punter, the players also appreciated the opportunity to visit Reagan Sailors. He said it was more than just a typical meet and greet.
“This has been an experience like no other,” said McAfee. “We had the chance to meet real Americans and experience a whole new world. It’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
The visit marked the first time Reagan hosted a USO tour since the organization celebrated its 75th anniversary, Feb. 4.