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NFL, Hollywood Star Send Holiday Wishes to Sailors

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea -- New England Patriots coach, members of the New York Jets and an actor from "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" made special phone calls to spread holiday wishes to deployed Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Dec. 21.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, New York Jets defensive end Mike DeVito, defensive tackle Kendrick Ellis, quarterback Greg McElroy, and cornerback Kyle Wilson and SVU actor Danny Pino called to thank Sailors for their service and let them know that their sacrifices are appreciated.

"I'm proud of the men and women in the service. It means a lot to me that we're one of your favorite teams because you're our favorite team," said Belichick. "We appreciate all your sacrifices; it's hard to be away from your families during the holidays, and we want to win for you guys."

Sixteen Sailors were present for the calls. One phone call gave a Sailor a chance to learn more about his personal interests outside his normal work routine.

"Talking to Pino was a personal interest for me because I am an aspiring writer and theater actor," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Casey Rogers, from Kalamazoo, Mich. "This experience was invaluable to me in my future outside of the Navy."

Pino currently stars as Detective Nick Amaro in the long-running NBC legal drama, "Law Order: Special Victims Unit". He is also known for his critically acclaimed performance as Mexican druglord and serial rapist Armadillo Quintero on FX's The Shield.

"I appreciate all the dedication and commitment to keeping us back home safe especially during this time of year," said Pino. "I wish you guys all a happy holiday and happy new year."

"Getting a chance to talk to him [Pino], showed us that people in Hollywood actually care about the military," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Cameron Stewart, from Vancouver, Wash. "It means a lot to me because I'm a big Law and Order fan and now when I watch him on TV I'll know him as the person and not the character he plays on the show."

Sailors were left in suspense on whom they were going to talk to during the Jets phone call. One Sailor in particular was really excited to get a chance to talk to a player he had been following since he was in college.

"It was awesome to get a chance to speak with Greg [McElroy]. It is the best thing that's happened on deployment so far," said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Mark Dewberry, from Elberta, Ala.

McElroy was just as thrilled to talk to the Sailors aboard Stennis as they were to talk with him.

"I was thrilled to talk to the Sailors. When asked about this opportunity, I said 'Are you kidding me? It is a no brainer' so I'm glad I got the chance to talk to them and wish everyone a happy holiday," said McElroy.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.

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