RENTON Nate Boyer is coming back to a Seahawks game. The most appropriate one.
The team’s long snapper during the 2015 preseason and former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret will raise the “12th Man” flag just before kickoff of Monday night’s game against Buffalo at CenturyLink Field.
The game is the Seahawks’ annual “Salute to Service” event coinciding with November and specifically Veterans Day.
“That flag is obviously so special to the community around here,” Boyer said last month at a military-appreciation ceremony with Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and the “12th Man” flag at CenturyLink Field.
Boyer was 20 on Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists flew commercial jets they had hijacked into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. Three years later, compelled to selfless service, Boyer was in Darfur in western Sudan aiding refugees fleeing war there. A week after getting back from that, Boyer enlisted in the Army. He was so driven, so proficient and so mentally tough, he made it through the absurdly challenging training to become a member of the elite Special Forces.
One hundred fifty entered Boyer’s training to be a Green Beret. Eleven made it all the way through to a Special Forces unit.
That led to three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that stemmed from those Sept. 11 attacks Boyer had seen unfold on his television in Los Angeles years earlier.
Boyer eventually walked on as a 30-year old to the University of Texas’ football team. He taught himself how to long snap, then the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent in May 2015. He was on Seattle’s roster from May into late August, appearing in an exhibition game at CenturyLink Field against Denver and leading the team out of its locker room holding a U.S. flag.
He says he still gets chills entering Seattle’s stadium, and will never forget that one game in which he was a Seahawk.
“The military and athletes, especially in football, there’s that mutual respect,” Boyer said Oct. 11, steps from where he will raise the “12th Man” flag Monday around 5:30 p.m.
“It’s definitely great to recognize around Veteran Day the importance of that there are literally people fighting right now for our freedoms and rights and for our privileges to play games like this, to play football. It’s such a big part of our culture. It’s very important. But without these men and women in uniform, none of this would be possible.
“I’m proud to be a small part of that. ... I’m proud to have played my one game in this stadium.”
The team also announced Special Forces Staff Sergeant Jonathan A. McLaughlin of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Join Base Lewis McChord will lead the Seahawks out of the tunnel onto the playing field carrying a U.S. flag.
On August 23, while on a foot patrol in Helman Province, Afghanistan, SSG McLaughlin was injured severely by detonation of an improvised explosive device. The explosion kill an American service member and wounded a half-dozen Afghan soldiers. The team says SSG McLaughlin represents intends to return to duty after he recovers from his injuries.
Also just before kickoff Monday pilots from Washington Army National Guard will conduct a fly-over of the stadium with a two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
This was Boyer in his first weeks with the Seahawks last year: