Tampa is a big military community. It’s partly due to MacDill Air Force Base, located in South Tampa, which houses members of all five branches of military and is home to U.S. Central Command.
As a result, the military presence in the community becomes especially important to the Buccaneers’ organization, who partake in military initiatives all year round. Special attention is of course paid during the annual NFL Salute to Service week and this year was no exception. Bucs players, including Salute to Service Nominee Ryan Jensen, paid a visit to the base last week to get a crash course in some of the happenings on-base.
The day started with a parachute simulation where players were strapped into harnesses and through virtual reality, jumped out of a plane to a target landing spot. They then moved onto survival training, where they were taught how soldiers are prepared to go into remote corners of the world, surviving off the land and their limited supplies.
Apparently, water in aluminum packs doesn’t taste very good.
The day concluded as the guys went to the on-base supermarket where they signed autographs for military members in partnership with USAA.
“Tampa is a military town,” said Jensen. “People come to see us as professional athletes and I always enjoy going to see military members. It’s always cool swapping stories and just coming out and spending time with them.”
Jensen, who has multiple family members in the military, is the team’s Salute to Service nominee this year. He actively participates in all of the Bucs’ military initiatives and has even visited VA hospitals to spend time with veterans in his free time. The sacrifice military members and their families make day in and day out isn’t lost on these players.
“Obviously, they do a lot for us,” inside linebacker Kevin Minter, whose sister is in the military, said. “For us to be able to take time out for them is a privilege.”
The Bucs will host their Salute to Service game this Sunday at home against this New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
View photos of the Buccaneers' visit to the MacDill Air Force Base, presented by USAA.