Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado
It’s an event that’s never been done before… an outdoor college basketball game on the flight deck of an active duty aircraft carrier. The USS Carl Vinson to be exact. This is the ship that carried Osama bin Laden’s body to sea. Such a unique way to spend Veteran’s Day and honor our troops while watching Michigan State University Spartans take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in their season opener.
I went with my friend Mark Johnson, but did I forget to mention that President Obama was there too?! There was tons of protection by land, sea and air, but all of a sudden a rather large plane appears and everyone turns and stands, clearly recognizing it as Air Force One. It was so neat to watch it fly onto base and land and then to have the President and First Lady Michelle attend the game. President Obama addressed the crowd and then sat front row on the sidelines to enjoy the game.
Obviously it was an event with intense security. I had to give everything but a blood sample to secure the tickets. But once on the ship, because you had to be active duty military to get tickets, or a VIP guest, everyone was so well behaved and access was quite remarkable. Mark and I found ourselves on the deck near the teams and even Magic Johnson! Fortunately the weather cooperated and it didn’t rain until after the game and the post show concerts too.
One of the sponsors of the game was Relativity Media with their upcoming film Act of Valor which follows a Navy SEAL squad on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent, and in the process takes down a complex web of terrorist cells determined to strike America at all costs. The filmmakers had unprecedented Naval access resulting in high-octane combat sequences and never-before-seen military operation scenes which are composited from actual events in the lives of the men appearing in the film and their comrades. Thanks to my good friend Tom Parker and the rest of the Relativity gang for a great day and game!