Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hero's Welcome

Four Buccaneer players visited the USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, to welcome its crew back to the country and get an inside look at how a warship is run

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WR Keenan McCardell sat in the captain's chair during his behind-the-scenes tour of the USS Carney destroyer

A tour of duty on a U.S. Navy destroyer won't remind anyone of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Duty and sacrifice come before comfort and pleasure on the USS Carney, and a long tour at sea can be a daunting task for the ship's crewman and women. But the sailors pull together, take the good with the bad and become a vital part of America's defense.

When they return to American soil, these soldiers merit a hearty reception, and that's just what Tampa Bay Buccaneers Corey Ivy, Austin King, Keenan McCardell and Dewayne White gave the USS Carney's crew this week.

"This is a way for us to come out and give something back to these guys," said McCardell. "They deserve a hero's welcome and that's what we're trying to give them here in Tampa."

Ivy, King, McCardell and White were invited aboard by Commanding Officer Ronald A. Boxall and Lieutenant Commander Sam R. Hancock, Jr., and given a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a powerful warship. The visit was filmed for a segment to run on the NFL Network.

The USS Carney is a destroyer that possesses multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups. The ship is home to a crew of more than 325 and has most services associated with a small town, including dining, banking, postal and shopping facilities. The Carney is capable of sustaining itself at sea for months at a time, like it did when it was stationed in the Persian Gulf during this time last year.

As guests of the Commanding Officer the Buccaneer players received a tour of the entire ship, from fore to aft and port to starboard. They sat in the Captain's chair, looked through the ship's binoculars and visited the Combat Information Room, where they learned about the ship's radar, towed array sonar, weapons systems. The Buccaneer quartet was thrilled to witness the electronic battle simulations that the crew is put through to prepare for combat.

"We had an opportunity to show these guys a little bit about what we do," said Boxall. "We know what they do. We were able to see these guys play ball when we were on deployment in the Persian Gulf last year and it meant a lot to us. This is a day where we can show these guys some of the sailors who are out there defending our country, and show them some of the weapons system we have on the destroyer."

Commander Boxall also presented the four Buccaneers with USS Carney hats that featured gold leafing on the brim, what the crew refers to as 'scrambled eggs.' These markings are actually highly significant, as they indicate that the hat was presented to the wearer by an officer in the US Navy.

Boxall wanted to show the crew's appreciation for the entertainment the Buccaneers provide every fall. Last year, the Carney's crew was able to watch Buc games live, even if it meant some unusual viewing hours.

"Seeing you guys play on Sundays helps remind us of what were out there for," said Commander Boxall. "It really brings us home and it's truly a big deal to see live sporting events when you're in places like the Persian Gulf, because that's America."

In return, Ivy, King, McCardell and White were simply pleased to spend some quality time with the men and women who defend the nation and the freedom its citizens enjoy.

"I've had a great time," said McCardell. "We learned about the ship and what a lot of these guys do. It really shows that teamwork works on the boat. We've had the chance to see all the different guns, see the captain's quarters, where they drive the boat, the weapons room. The quarters are kind of tight, but it's been fun. I'm just happy I could visit with some of these young men and women."

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