Members of the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina TopCats brought a little of their ‘Keep Pounding’ spirit to the U.S. Army John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School footprint, Tuesday.
Four Panthers, four TopCats cheerleaders and team owner, Jerry Richardson, who is originally from Fayetteville, kicked off their day at the USAJFKSWCS Special Operations Mission Training Center. SOMTC provided the visitors with the opportunity to give the weapons and parachute simulators a try.
The visitors stopped in for lunch at the USAJFKSWCS dining facility.
Richardson, and players John Theus, tackle; David Mayo, linebacker; Chris Manhertz, tight end; Greg Van Roten, center; and Carolina Panthers TopCats Dasja Johnson, Chandalae Lanouette, Courtney Dancy and Kaitlyne Cook were in attendance. They spent the afternoon breaking bread and swapping stories with the extended USAJFKSWCS Family.
Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees all had the opportunity to chat with the Panthers, TopCats and Richardson.
“I’m just happy to see the smiling faces on these troops and getting to talk to them and getting to know them a little bit,” said Mayo.
After finishing their meals attendees received photos, flags and lanyards to be signed by the pro-ball visitors, but many brought items of their own.
Michael Tucker, a civilian instructor with USAJFKSWCS, brought a Panther head foam hat to get signed.
“I’ve been a fan since day one. I’m from North Carolina and I’ve been a fan since they started,” said Tucker.
Tucker was not alone in his commitment to fandom, U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence, USAJFKSWCS, Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arrowsmith also explained that he has been a Panthers fan since their inception.
“I actually got here in (19)95 When the Carolina Panthers came into existence”, said Arrowsmith. “As soon as the Carolina Panthers came into existence … I instantly became a Carolina fan.”
A self-attested military brat, Arrowsmith described growing up in and out of Fayetteville and has spent approximately 22 of his 29 years in service at Fort Bragg.
“I think bringing them here and talking to Soldiers, being in a team like that (Carolina Panthers) is a lot like being in the military,” explained Arrowsmith.
At the close of the meet and greet lunch and autograph session, Mayo took a moment to talk about his experiences throughout the day.
Military service runs in Mayo’s Family, as his grandfather Archie Mayo, was a pilot during World War II. He also has two brothers who are service members, a brother stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, and another brother with the Oregon National Guard.
“The biggest thing for me, we did some really fun things today and that’s all good and fun, but I’m really just thankful and appreciative of the troops, and I hope they see that,” Mayo said as the event ended.
The visitors completed their day with USAJFKSWCS at Bank Hall with a dynamic workout from the Human Performance Program.