The 115 members of the Wisconsin National Guard 127th Infantry Unit received a much different welcome home party than they had expected upon returning from their two weeks of field training when the members of the Tailgate Tour entered the armory’s gymnasium as they were in formation.
After some formal introductions, the unit broke from formation and casually greeted the players and took some pictures. The entire group then got together to hear from Mark Murphy and the players.
Many of the questions dealt with the routines of football, including meals, workouts and practice schedules, making it very clear to the players that many similarities exist between football and an army unit.
“We’re all teammates,” Jayrone Elliott observed. “You need to learn about each other, the habits, and develop camaraderie in the locker room or in the field. Our schedules are similar. We get up early, work out and be around your teammates all day and have your meals together. Great brotherhood.”
Photos: Packers surprise military members to start Day 2
The unit appreciated the surprise close to the training, according to their commander, 1st Lt. Jason Morrison.
“It was for the guys,” he said. “They’ve been training hard for two weeks. This is last thing before they go home so this is huge for them.
Morrison also observed the strong parallels between the two groups.
“They watch team every weekend and it’s huge to see them,” he said. We use a lot of football analogies in our job, too. Talk about team. Talk about leadership.”
The soldiers also were curious about ways football teams keep it light, which led to a discussion about who the current Packers view as the biggest prankster.
“You’re probably looking at him,” admitted Sam Barrington, with a smile. “I do it for fun, but sometimes you need it, to give some tough talk to a teammate.”
In addition to the fun the players had sharing stories, it also gave them the opportunity to thank the soldiers for their service.
“It was tremendous,” Elliott said. “To be able to meet them and show them respect was great. They do so much for us, sacrificing their time for a bigger cause and giving great effort. We’re thankful at end of the day.”