CAMP CARROLL, South Korea -- More than 5,200 miles separate "Camp Carroll" at 12 Seahawks Way in Renton, Wash., the home of Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, from Camp Carroll, in the Republic of Korea, the home of 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which is a Patriot missile unit known as the "Guardian Battalion."
Most football fans have likely heard of the "Camp Carroll" located in the Pacific Northwest, where the 10-5 Seahawks recently secured a playoff berth for the second time in three years under Coach Carroll.
But what about the Camp Carroll located overseas on the outskirts of Waegwan, South Korea?
That camp is run by Lt. Col. J M. Rose Jr., the battalion commander of 2-1 ADA, who commands a unit of 600 Soldiers.
Rose's unit is responsible for protecting all of the Republic of Korea from missiles, rockets and aircraft, but the unit's main task is preventing conflict and stabilizing the Korean demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ, and averting North Korea from threatening or attacking.
Despite the distance between the two camps, the connection runs deep.
Rose grew up in Tacoma, Wash., and has been an ardent Seahawks fan his entire life. He and his Soldiers love watching NFL football, and they use it as an escape from the hardships of life as a Soldier stationed so far away from home.
Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Riki Ellison, now the chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, brought the NFL a little closer to the Guardian Battlion when he made a visit to the camp back in November. Ellison has known coach Carroll since his playing days a "Niner" and his son, Rhett Ellison, was recruited by Carroll at USC and was a 2012 fourth round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings.
"My organization was heading down there to provide the annual 'Peninsula Defender of the Year' to the best Patriot Air Defense Unit in the U.S. Army and in the Republic of Korea's army," Ellison said. "During that time too, the U.S. Army ADA had their 'Turkey Bowl' -- an 11-man flag football championship in Korea, and I thought that Pete would be a great way to provide some Seahawks gear to the winners.
"The winning ADA battalion of all things came from Camp Carroll in southern Korea whose commander was a die-hard Seahawks fan," Ellison said of 2-1 ADA and Rose. "Lieutenant Colonel J M. Rose was the winning quarterback for the winning team."
After their victory in the "Turkey Bowl," Ellison presented Rose and the Guardian Battalion with Seahawks t-shirts and 12th Man flags for him and his unit.
"When Pete and the Seahawks sent that gear to my unit and we snapped those pictures with our football trophies, it made my Soldiers feel appreciated and it meant a lot coming from an organization like the Seahawks that is world class and all about the team and winning, just like us here in Korea," Rose said. "The players may not realize it when they are out there on the field fighting together for a win on Sundays, but to us they represent a connection to home, and there's no way to overstate what a great morale booster that is for our Soldiers."
And via Ellison, Rose was set up with a visit to the Seahawks practice facility, Virginia Mason Athletic Center, while on vacation earlier this month. Coach Carroll invited Rose to the facility to watch the club practice prior to the team's game against the Arizona Cardinals, and then invited him out on the field to deliver a message to the team
"When you are an American Soldier and you're serving your country from a faraway place, separated and disconnected from your loved ones, it makes you really appreciate those things that bring you closer to home," said Rose of the Seahawks' support of his camp. "When we are out here in (South) Korea working long hours, accomplishing tough missions in unforgiving elements or on duty during holidays and weekends, getting a chance to watch our favorite teams on TV is our escape.
It's our connection to home, bonds us closer together as a team, and for a brief moment makes us forget about being so far away for so long."