Demetric Felton Jr. knows what it's like to be a military kid.
Felton, entering his second year as a hybrid receiver and running back for the Browns, grew up accustomed to moving around the country and visiting military bases with his dad. Demetric Felton Sr. was a Navy Chaplain when Felton was young, and his job took the family across several parts of the country, starting in Tennessee, where Felton was born, to Mississippi, Hawaii and multiple areas in California.
Those memories were in Felton's mind when he visited Alaska earlier this month for the NFL's annual United Service Operations Tour. Felton joined Kenny Moore II from the Colts and Andrew Beck from the Broncos for visits at several military bases, including Fort Wainwright, Fort Greely and Eielson Air Force Base and Clear Space Force Station.
"It was a good eye-opening experience about the details that go into protecting our country and how important those bases are," Felton said. "It was a great opportunity to learn and see what they had to endure and deal with in order to make sure we have our freedoms and make sure we're as protected as we can be."
Among activities and procedures Felton completed in Alaska during the week-long trip included K9 training, a tour of the military offices, aircraft hangars and armories and meetings with service members for Q&As about their duties. Felton also met with families of the service members and conducted a football clinic.
Felton was in awe of the knowledge and preparedness the service members exuded as they relayed their responsibilities and shared their stories. He was particularly impressed by the team that operates the Long Range Discrimination Radar, a device that tracks all objects in the sky and requires around-the-clock surveillance, and the intrinsic work that goes into monitoring air space.
"That was definitely something that stuck out to me because of how complex it was and how hard it has to be for them to identify whether something that is incoming is a rocket or just something from the sky," he said. "There were a whole bunch of things that go into it, and they have to stay on high alert all the time. That was a real eye-opening experience."
One of the servicemen who showed Felton around the Eielson Air Force Base brought along his son, who was in his early teen years and was a Browns fan. Felton, of course, gravitated to him and enjoyed seeing him compete in the football drills during the clinic. He knew he was creating memories for him that would last a lifetime — the whole point of the trip — but the experience was also going to be a lifelong memory for Felton, too.
"For me, being a military kid and being on bases, falling in love with football and being able to connect with older people, it reminded me of myself," Felton said. "It was really exciting to see, and it was a lot of fun. That was my favorite day, and it made the whole trip worth it."
The trip made Felton appreciate his own upbringing even more, too. Service families often face a variety of challenges as they navigate from moving to different parts of the country — or the world — and bring the utmost support for their loved ones.
Felton knows how it feels, which is why he was overjoyed to bring smiles to the faces of the many service members and family members he met across the trip.
"It just made me reflect and be thankful for my dad and his hard work and how he always tried to lighten the load for our family," Felton said. "He took care of us. So having that in the back of my head, seeing these service members, it made me want to do anything I can do to encourage them because I know it can get tough."