Rookie C Stefen Wisniewski poses for a photo wth a resident of the veteran's home. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders visited the Veterans Home of California, Yountville, Sunday afternoon. Thirteen players – CBs Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke, offensive linemen Alan Pelc, Stefen Wisniewski, Roy Schuening, Alex Parsons, Seth Wand, and Lou Eliades, WR Damola Adeniji, LB Darryl Blackstock, TE Kevin Brock, FB Bryson Kelly, and DE Mason Brodine – spent time talking with the veterans, posing for photos, and signing autographs.
"It was awesome," said OL Alan Pelc, a rookie out of North Carolina. "It was a great experience. It was a great time seeing people who have served our country. It was a great time. They live in a great place in a beautiful city."
Pelc relished the opportunity to listen to veterans' stories. "I talked with a gentleman who processed the original photo of Iwo Jima, the flag raising, and there were some other cool stories - guys who flew after Pearl Harbor, some of the ways they got enlisted. It was some of the coolest stories I've ever heard," said Pelc.
The veterans enjoyed the visit as much as the players did. "I love it. It's just so enjoyable," said Cecilia Royall, a resident of the home. "It really has been for my husband who is a Raiders fan and for all the home members that I live with."
Cecilia's husband, Prince Royall, who served three years in the military and eight in the National Guard, enjoyed the time he spent with many of the Raiders. "It's great," said Prince Royall. "It's good to meet them personally. It makes the game better to watch now. We talked about our military life and their football life."
The players were able to pass off some of their youthful energy to the residents. "It's been great. I love talking to them," said Carl Lanum, a veteran's home resident. "They're full of energy – something we miss around here. A lot of younger people, a lot of energy, and a full career ahead of them…it's been fun just to listen and talk to them."
Lanum finally found a football team he wants to root for. "I'm a Raider fan now," said Lanum. "I've never been anything; I never really had a special team. I'm almost 60 years old and I've never had a special team, [until now]."
Van Dyke and Chekwa were happy to be able to spend time with the veterans. "It was real humbling to see all of the veterans," said Van Dyke. "They were ecstatic. There were a bunch of smiles I saw today."
"It was a good time," said Chekwa. "I just wanted to talk to them about what they did, where they served and just talk, laugh a little bit, and have fun. They were really appreciative and they blessed me too so it was fun."
Many of the veterans look forward to watching the upcoming Raiders games, picking out the players they had the chance to meet. "It's been wonderful," said resident Doug Hanson. "Never expected it at all…such nice young men. We'll be watching for them now. It was a really nice thing for them to do."
The 13 Raiders boarded the bus back to their Napa Valley Training Complex after their visit. They now turn their attention to preparation for their preseason match up with the New Orleans Saints Sunday, August 28.