By Patrick Donahue, Coastal Courier
FORT STEWART - The helmets were a little smaller than what they normally wear. The working environment is also a little more confined. They’re used to being surrounded by 70,000 fans too, not 70 tons of armor.
Friday afternoon, though, several members of the Atlanta Falcons discussed leadership, teamwork – and football – with members of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1/64 Armor Battalion.
Squeezing on the CVC helmet tankers wear is one thing. Trying to wriggle into and out of hatches of the Abrams was another for some of the Falcons, including veteran guard Chris Lindstrom, who is 6-foot-3 and weighs 307 pounds.
Lindstrom called the experience “pretty incredible.”
“It’s really impressive to see it up close,” he said of the Abrams tank, “and then to see the different roles and how the crew operates. You really get an appreciation for it. It’s definitely tight in there. But it’s cool how everybody has a role and understands what they need to do.
“It was really cool to hear and listen, knowing and understanding your assignment and knowing that everyone has their own role. And in the same sense, help each other out,” Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom, about to enter his sixth year in the NFL, all with the Falcons, said he was “incredibly grateful” for the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
“It’s pretty amazing the sacrifices everybody makes,” he said.
The tankers got autographs and pictures with the players after showing them the ins and outs of their new Abrams main battle tanks and their Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.
“It’s exciting,” said Sgt. Jonathan Hernandez, an Abrams gunner and a professed Falcons fan. “From the outside, it looks massive, but once you get inside, it’s very tight.”
Sgt. Hernandez said he hopes the players came away understanding what they do as soldiers and how much they love what they do.
Teamwork is important on a tank too, Hernandez pointed out.
“If you’re not on the same page,” he said, “everything can go downhill.”
The Falcons also were on hand for a promotion and a re-enlistment as part of their visit to Fort Stewart on Friday. First Lt. Collin Bresett, who played football at Union College, was promoted from second lieutenant and Sgt. 1st Class Raheem Carter signed on for another hitch in the Army.
Falcons players also greeted hundreds of fans, young and older, at Newman Physical Fitness Center, signing autographs for those waiting in line.
“I was one of those kids,” offensive lineman Drew Dalman said. “It was the coolest thing in the world to me at that time. It’s kind of interesting to see it from the other side.”
While soldiers and families at Fort Stewart are from all over the U.S., there were some diehard Falcons fans in the mix, even at the 1/64 motor pool, and they let the players know it
“We heard a couple of ‘Rise Ups,’” Lindstrom said, “so that’s always great.”