Super Bowl XLVII: U.S. Air Force – In the Skies, in the Stands and on the Field (Update)

Air Force wide receiver Chad Hall during the Falcons-Black Knights game at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium, Nov. 3, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

Somewhat Related Update:

There were rumors earlier this week that chicken wings were flying out of supermarkets — not literally.

I rushed to our local supermarket to stock up on some for our Super Bowl get-together.

Whether the rumor was founded or not, there certainly will not be a shortage of chicken wings — or of any other appropriate Super Bowl snacks — for our troops in Afghanistan thanks to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

DLA has delivered approximately 49,000 pounds of chicken wings, 46,000 pounds of frozen pizza, 11,000 pounds of mozzarella sticks and 2,200 gallons of chili to our troops in Afghanistan.

Additional fare includes jalapeno poppers, chicken mini bites, turkey wings, french fries, onion rings and meatballs, DLA says, along with more than 9,800 cases of nonalcoholic beer to wash it all down.

To our troops: Enjoy the Super Bowl, the chicken wings and I hope you won’t mind the “non” in non-alcoholic too much.

Read more here

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Original Post:

As we enjoy the 47th Super Bowl this weekend, U.S. Air Force pilots will be patrolling the skies over New Orleans to keep those skies and the more than 76,000 people expected to attend this all-American tradition safe.

Among the 76,000 spectators, I am sure, there will be hundreds if not thousands of active duty, former and retired Air Force men and women cheering for the 49ers.

There may also be one or two Air Force Academy cadets, faculty and staff among the spectators also cheering for the 49ers — if they can afford the tickets.

Why do I think so?

Because only for the fifth time in Super Bowl history an Air Force Academy graduate has made it to the Super Bowl.

Chad Hall, an Air Force Academy graduate, an Air Force Reserve captain and a San Francisco 49ers wide receiver will be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday ready to play for the 49ers.

The 5-foor-8, 187-pound Chad Hall was signed to the 49ers practice squad Nov. 27. He was released Dec. 14 as the team juggled its active and practice squad rosters, but he left an impression on the coaches, who signed him back onto the practice squad three days later.

The 49ers promoted Chad to the active roster Jan. 19, which allowed him to suit up for the next day’s NFC championship game against his hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons. That was his only game with the 49ers this season. Sunday’s Super Bowl would be his second one with the 49ers.

As mentioned, only four Air Force Academy graduates have made it to the Super Bowl. They are, according to John Van Winkle at the Air Force Academy, “Chad Hennings (defensive tackle, 1993, 1994 and 1996), Steve Russ (linebacker, 1998-1999), Bryce Fisher (defensive end, 2006) and Joe Lombardi (quarterback coach, 2010).”

Hall attributes his success to his Air Force background. This is his part of his background as told by Van Winkle:

Hall’s journey to the Super Bowl started at the academy, where he lettered for three years. During his junior season in 2006, he started all 12 games at halfback and led the team in rushing with 784 yards.

As a senior, Hall moved from halfback to wide receiver. But wherever he lined up, he was a weapon for the Air Force Academy Falcons and a headache for opposing defenders, averaging just more than 206 all-purpose yards per game. He led the 2007 team in rushing and receiving with 230 rushes for 1,478 yards, 15 touchdowns, 50 receptions for 524 yards, and one touchdown. On special teams, Hall was the primary punt and kick returner, returning 36 punts and kickoffs for a combined 681 yards.

Hall got the attention of NFL teams, but he had a five-year active duty service commitment to fulfill after graduating in 2008. Defense Department policy required him to serve at least 24 months of active duty before applying for an early release from active duty to transfer to the Guard or Reserve after being signed to play professional sports, so he went undrafted. He earned a minicamp tryout for the Atlanta Falcons, but they didn’t offer a contract. A later tryout with the Buffalo Bills had similar results.

Hall began his active-duty career as a maintenance officer in the 421st Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, but kept his goal of playing pro football alive and worked out at the University of Utah’s Pro Day in March 2010. It was there that Philadelphia Eagles scouts signed him, giving him his first shot at playing pro football. Hall then transferred to the Air Force Reserve and pursued his NFL dreams.

Hall played in eight games in the 2010 season, starting once. He ended the season with 11 catches for 115 yards and his first NFL touchdown, along with nine rushes for 29 yards.

His 2011 and 2012 seasons started the same way.

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As the 2012 season rolled on, Hall kept training and staying in top physical condition, waiting for his next NFL opportunity. He got a couple of calls, and two tryouts. But nothing happened until San Francisco called him.

One of the four Academy graduates who made it to the Super Bowl, Chad Hennings, also credits his Air Force Academy training and education for getting him to “that pinnacle of professional sports”:

My Air Force Academy class ring means more to me than my Super Bowl rings, because it laid the foundation of professional success I had. That’s where I learned the truths about honor, commitment, and integrity that helped me as a fighter pilot, helped me as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, and helped me in my professional life after football.

Before reading Chad Hall’s story, I really had “no dog in Sunday’s fight.”

But, being part of the extended Air Force family, now I have a team to root for.

Source: John Van Winkle’s “Face of Defense: AF Academy Grad Gears Up for Super Bowl

CODA:

Of course, the U.S. Air Force will not be the only Service participating in the festivities, Sunday. A Joint Armed Forces Color Guard composed of 10 recruiters from each branch who serve in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, will present the nation’s colors to kick off the Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Carrying the U.S. Air Force’s flag will be Master Sgt. Antonio Frese, who is assigned to the 331st Recruiting Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Members of Joint Armed Forces Color Guard practice presenting the nation’s colors at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chase, La. (U.S. Army photo/Jennifer Villaume)

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist