By Samantha Parker, www.armedforcesbowl.com
A bowl game is a very unique experience, and as a first time attendee, it was something I will never forget.
This afternoon during the game I had the pleasure of seeing what it would be like from a professional journalist's perspective – observing and writing in the press box, and also seeing all the hard work that everyone put into this event coming together.
The beginning of the game was kicked off by six parachutists that air jumped onto the center of Amon G. Carter Stadium, the finale being double amputee Dana Bowman. Bowman brought with him a 15,000 square foot American flag that was used for the singing of the National Anthem.
The feedback from fans were unbelievably positive. While speaking to some on my venture across the stadium, the things that stuck out to them the most weren't all technical football aspects, but the efforts they put into honoring those who have served our country.
"The most chilling part for me was seeing that incredible amputee parachuting down onto the field… It's the efforts like that [for those who have served] that makes this bowl different from any other," stated a Rice fan.
General Norton A. Schwartz was also the star of the show during the half time break. Schwartz is the 2012 recipient of the Great American Patriot Award, an award devoted to honoring men and women of "high moral fiber and good character… and have gone beyond the call of duty to serve and protect this country".
As someone who has served as Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command-Pacific, the Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, and the 11th Air Force he deserves this award and is receiving it not only for him, but for recognition of all the other men and women who have served our country.
The rest of today's encounter was devoted to the football game between Rice and Air Force Academy, and although Air Force put up a good fight, Rice came out on top.
As the last fifteen seconds ran down on the clock, and it became apparent that the football players of Rice University were the winners of the 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, each team congregated in the middle of the field and congratulated their opponent.
This is a gesture that does not happen very often, and shows the respect that the two teams have gained from each other over these past few days of activities.
This experience is something that the teams, staff and volunteers will remember for a very long time.
Air Force's Austin Niklaas stated that although he was disappointed that they had not won, "The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl people were great, and we appreciated our time here."
As a weekend full of events for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl comes to a close, one important thing remains – this bowl event is far more than just a bowl game and I am grateful for this event being my first bowl game experience.