By Reggie Jarrett
Editor, Jax Air News
Seven members of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Nov. 7. The players went to the Rescue Swimmer School and then went to meet their namesakes, the "Jaguars" of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 60.
The players began their day by going to the Rescue Swimmer School where they learned what it takes to be a Navy rescue swimmer. The visit started with a briefing by AWR2 Matt Shields, an instructor with the school.
"Our motto is 'so others may live,'" Shields told the players. "We prepare our students to be the best emergency response unit in the Navy."
Following the briefing, the players went to the pool to see students in action. The players were able to climb an observation tower to get a birds eye view of swimmers going through their paces. After the training session, students were able to meet and chat with the football players.
The final stop for the Jaguar players was to meet the "Jaguars" of HSM-60. They were given a tour of a MH-60 Romeo helicopter, where 6-foot 3-inch and 331-pound defensive lineman Marcell Dareus climbed into the cramped cockpit. The players concluded their visit with by signing autographs for HSM-60 personnel.
The visit made an impression on the Jaguar players. "I think it is awesome to come and experience what they go through with their training," said defensive tackle Marcus Hardison, who comes from a military family. "It was really fun to come here and be around them."
In addition to Dareus and Hardison, other Jaguars who made the trip to the base were wide receiver Keelan Cole, defensive tackle Eli Ankou, long snapper Matt Overton, offensive lineman William Poehls and defensive end Hunter Dimick.
Overton does not come from a military family, but his father was a police officer. "I am a big supporter of military and law enforcement," he said. "It's cool to come out here and meet these men and women, because they are the true heroes."