A few moments after Browns linebacker Mack Wilson took a photo with members of the Cleveland U.S. Coast Guard during their sail on Lake Erie, he grabbed a camera and proceeded to create more smiles around the boat as he pointed it at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Far, far, away from his home of Montgomery, Alabama, the rookie continues to find ways to embrace his new home and for his new home to embrace him.
Wilson, center JC Tretter and former Browns legendary cornerback Hanford Dixon made a visit out to the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor to sign autographs for numerous service men and women, get a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and ride along with several crew members on a brief voyage on Lake Erie.
JC Tretter, Mack Wilson and Hanford Dixon visited the US Coast Guard Station at Cleveland Harbor, in partnership with USAA to learn about the group’s year round efforts, including its assignments during Browns home games.
In addition, the three representing the Brown and Orange learned several aspects of servicemen's and servicewomen's day-to-day lives as well as the ins and outs of how they operate as a team, much like the Browns themselves.
“How they are as a team, they stick together,” Wilson said. “Being on the boat and being able to see some of the things that they do is amazing.”
Michael Warner, Military Affairs Representative for the United Services Automobile Association, knows it’s the days like Tuesday that take service members out of their daily routine that make a huge difference.
“I think it’s critically important for the simple fact that a lot of times you come in and the things that you’re doing in service to your nation is the day-to-day grind,” Warner said. “Overall, our nation is very good at thanking the military but this special recognition makes them feel special because they get to talk to NFL players and a former great and interact with them.”
For Wilson, it’s those he interacted with and the smiles generated along the way that have a much bigger impact than what will go on at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
“We appreciate these guys and what they’ve done for us and this country,” Wilson said. “They’re going to remember this. That’s what I’m all about, giving back and making people smile.”
The recognition between the Browns and the Coast Guard members doesn’t end with Tuesday’s visit. The Browns will highlight their year-round commitment to local and national military appreciation by recognizing military personnel, veterans and their families at FirstEnergy Stadium during the Browns-Bills game on Sunday with the game presented by USAA.