Hello Raider Nation, my name is Mario Benavidez and I'm from Charter Oak, Calif.
My father raised me right from day one. Growing up in Los Angeles, we were season ticket holders from 1987 through 1995, until the team returned to Oakland.
I deployed to Afghanistan in March of 2010 until March of 2011 with the 10th Mountain Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th BSB "Bravo Bulldogs" Company.
It was hard deploying for 12 months, especially because I'm a husband and a proud father of three beautiful girls. But once I got there, the first thing on my mind was, "Where am I going to watch the Raiders football games?"
So I did my research. I spent my free time finding out where and how I could get access to the internet. I first signed up for the League Pass for Direct-TV, but the connection was too slow, so I would wait for it to buffer and in the meantime listen live to Greg Papa and Jim Plunkett.
Everyone said I was crazy because Raider Football would not come on until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. on Monday mornings, but I would get up at 12:30 a.m. to go down to the MWR "Recreation Center" to reserve a computer and check the AFN (Armed Forces Network) to see if they were going to show the Raiders game. If not, I would reserve a computer to stay online so I could listen live to Greg and Jim.
After watching or listening to the game, I would go to PT (Physical Training) and then to work call, which made Mondays long for me but well worth it. Even if we lost the game I would still hold my head high and be proud of the Silver and Black.
The flag in the picture was sent to me by my auntie Sandie who is also a Raiders fan.
Now that I have come back from Afghanistan, I can't wait for opening day versus the Jets. It will be my first game after three years of service in US Army.