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February 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Seahawks fan in Afghanistan: Why relentless rain defines the 12th Man

By 1st Lt. James Hill

James Hill is a platoon leader for the 455th Engineering Company stationed in Afghanistan. He is from Bellevue.

oldiers from the 3rd Platoon of the 455th Engineering Company fly the 12th Man flag under the Stars and Stripes at their command operations building near Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. James Hill

Soldiers from the 3rd Platoon of the 455th Engineering Company fly the 12th Man flag under the Stars and Stripes at their command operations building near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Photo courtesy of 1st Lt. James Hill

Saturday night, the night before the Seahawks would win the Super Bowl, I woke up and listened to rain. I wondered what I should write about if the Seahawks won, and that’s when I realized it.

I had to write about the fans.

“Relentless,” I kept saying to myself.  “Just like an Afghanistan rain.”

It has been raining here for three days straight, and if you don’t live in a second story shipping container, then you are probably sleeping in a puddle. Rain in Afghanistan is very different than in Seattle. It’s a hard, thick, swooping rain that soaks you to the bone within seconds. The ground gets thick with mud. It sticks to ones boots, adding an inch to a soldier’s height.

Relentless is also a perfect word to describe Seahawks fans. Fans who have faced failure in the past but have always bounced back. Fans who support their Hawks from anywhere in the world. Even during war.

When we raised our 12th Man flag for the last time this season here in Afghanistan, pride overwhelmed each and every soldier within my platoon. I thought about Seattle and the fans back home preparing for the game, putting a hold on all different aspects of their lives so their team had the focus it deserved. My friend wrote me and mentioned he had been wearing his 12th Man jersey everyday this past week in preparation. (I am guessing his employer is a Hawks fan).

No other team has fans as dedicated. Having grown up in the Greater Seattle area, I think I understand why Seahawks fans are so different and special.

Seahawks fans go to work in the dark and come home after work in the dark. We walk to our destinations in the rain without umbrellas. We go to the park when it’s overcast because we never know when we will get a nicer day. We climb mountains flashed with snow and ice. We sail in bone-numbing wind chills. Seattleites, and Seahawks fans, never seem to mind.

I’ve lived around the world and all over the United States, and there aren’t many environments that test ones will like Seattle does. Even here in the war-stricken country of Afghanistan, waking up for a 12- hour route-clearance night mission doesn’t seem that bad. My platoon stays positive even through the worst possible situations. I’m not sure I would be the leader I am today if I wasn’t raised in Seattle.

We are relentless in Seattle.

You saw that Sunday night in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks beat the Broncos at MetLife Stadum in New Jersey so convincingly because we never give up.

Relentless.

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