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Originally published Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 8:08 AM

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Seahawks surprise retired Kennewick soldier

As retired Army Sgt. Andrew McMann sat on his couch surrounded by family, he had no idea the surprise of a lifetime was about to come through the door.

Tri-City Herald

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As retired Army Sgt. Andrew McMann sat on his couch surrounded by family, he had no idea the surprise of a lifetime was about to come through the door.

McMann - who had both legs shattered in 2007 when an improvised explosive device went off under his vehicle in Iraq's Anbar province - was speechless Thursday when three Seattle Seahawks players unexpectedly walked into his Kennewick home.

The Seahawks set up the surprise as part of their 12 Tour, which travels to Washington, Alaska and British Columbia to connect with fans. McMann, who received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, was nominated by a nonprofit in the Tri-Cities to be the recipient of the surprise visit.

Shortly before 4 p.m., a black SUV rolled into McMann's driveway. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, as well as wide receiver Doug Baldwin, got out in their Seahawks jerseys and made their way into the McMann house with arms full of merchandise.

As the players made their way in, a wide-eyed McMann was there to greet them.

"I was just so surprised," McMann said once the shock wore off. "I just thought it was a coincidence my family was here. What a great experience."

The players - along with Blitz, the Seahawks mascot, and a few Sea Gals - took pictures with McMann's family before sitting on the couch and talking football with McMann for almost an hour.

McMann and his family peppered the players with questions about opposing teams and their outlook on this year's team. Baldwin thanked McMann for his service and gave him a medal on behalf of the entire organization.

Baldwin said the experience of meeting McMann and other veterans gives the Seahawks players a different perspective on what it means to serve your country.

"It's a rewarding feeling for us," said Baldwin, whose grandfather served in the Air Force. "We are always called soldiers on the football field, but these guys are real heroes and soldiers. They go out and fight for our country and do stuff that no one else wants to do."

McMann's wife, Mary McMann, had to keep the visit a secret from her husband for the last month. She said her husband - who has trouble running and jumping since the injury - was having a bad day Thursday as he battled with Veterans Affairs over medical care.

Seeing the players and watching their children play with them completely erased the bad day her husband was having, she said.

"It's exceptional they make it a personal thing like this," she said. "His service really was for his friends, family and community. When he gets gratitude, it really hits home for him."

McMann, who was in the Army Reserve and worked for Hanford Patrol when he was deployed in 2006, broke five bones in both legs when a 100-pound bomb went off, his wife said. He has had three surgeries to repair the damage in his legs and though he tried to re-enlist a couple days after the injuries, he was forced to retire.

For McMann, serving in the military was an honor and something he would have done for the rest of his life had it not been for the injuries. Though he misses serving with his "brothers," McMann is at peace with his new job as husband and father.

"I am lucky to be alive," he said. "Some days are unbelievably difficult and challenging. But being a dad full time is a pretty awesome job."

Baldwin said that the sacrifice all veterans and soldiers make is unprecedented.

"These guys put everything on the line for their country and for their family," he said. "(McMann) sacrificed his life and his body for his `teammates.' It's hard for us to fathom that kind of commitment and dedication."

As the players were leaving, each one took the time to hug McMann and thank him for all he did for the country.

After they were gone, an emotional McMann fought for words to describe how much the day meant to him and his family.

"I don't feel like I'm worthy of something like this," he said. "But I really appreciate it."


Information from: Tri-City Herald,



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