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NFL players touchdown on Harpers Ferry

By By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes

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U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY – Three NFL players visited Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, March 5.Wide receiver Pierre Garcon of the Washington Redskins, tight end Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints, and punter Brandon Fields of the Miami Dolphins signed autographs, posed for photos and talked with Harpers Ferry Sailors and Marines during the USO sponsored event.

“I was anxious to meet [the players],” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson, from Memphis, Tenn., “They were in Afghanistan before they were here. They said it was different because they were on land and there were a lot of Marines and a few Sailors but it wasn’t like it was on the ship.”

The NFL players took a tour of ship and visited Sailors and Marines on watch, shaking hands and thanking them for their service.

“I made sure they got to experience ship life and got to know the crew,” said Information Systems Technicians 1st Class Tamika Williams, from New Orleans. When they got here, I saw a lot of people smiling ear to ear and rushing out to see them. It was a good experience overall for everyone involved.”

Wilson said he talked to the players about growing up and related to their similar backgrounds. “These guys are role models for me,” he added.

The players thanked Harpers Ferry crew members and expressed their gratitude for what they do every day. They also presented the ship with a football signed by all three players.

“I know they were tired, but it shows how good of a sport they were. Showing up improved morale so much,” said Williams.

Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.