Players for the Jacksonville Jaguars football team made a visit to their namesakes, the “Jaguars” of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 60 aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Nov. 27.
The players began their tour by going to the Paul L. Nelson Helicopter Training Facility, where each of the five players took their turn in the helicopter simulator.
“The simulator was a little intimidating at first. It’s like a real-life video game,” said Jaguar Matt Overton.
“I have never done anything like that. It makes you realize how difficult a job these pilots have.”
The simulator gives the experience of flying the MH-60 Romeo helicopter used by HSM-60.
“It’s a non-motion based simulator, but the graphics and the cockpit are modeled exactly as on the aircraft. There is no difference,” said NAS Jax helicopter simulator instructor Emile Therrien.
“The players will take off from NAS Jax and fly around downtown. They will also be able to land inside the stadium and on an aircraft carrier we put in the river.”
The players were grateful to be assisted in the simulator by instructors.
“That was a tough task,” said Jaguar Tyler Patmon. “They gave us some extra help, so I can’t imagine doing it for real. These people are special.”
After touring the training facility, the players were able to sit in a real helicopter when they went to HSM-60. The Jaguar players were greeted by about 200 Jaguars of the reserve helicopter squadron.
“Being from Jacksonville, I really appreciate it,” said AD2 Shawn Hobgood. “It shows they respect the community and the military.”
The Jaguars of HSM-60 are one of the few organizations to able to wear the logo of the Jaguars football team on their squadron patch thanks to a licensing agreement with the National Football League.
“It’s awesome,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Klidies.
“We love that we are able to wear the Jaguar logo. Its great that we are able to support the team.”
The players climbed aboard helicopters, signed autographs and chatted with Sailors and even got a hug from LS2 Briana Holmes.
“We appreciate them coming here,” she said.
“We do stuff for morale here, but its great to have football players come here and see what we do and see what we are about.”
The respect went both ways, as the players expressed their gratitude to their Navy hosts.
“I appreciate what these guys do,” said Patmon.
“I realize that more as I grow older. It’s a great thing they do for our country.”