Some things transcend the battlefield, whether it is the high school gridiron or the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. No matter what, you must play and fight like a warrior, says Sgt. Carlos Walker.
The soldier assigned to 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord knows plenty about being a warrior. He was part of a detachment that came under enemy fire in September 2011.
During the firefight, he threw himself right in the middle, engaging the enemy from different positions, fixing mechanical problems with his detachment's vehicle and helping his fellow soldiers and their Afghan allies escape the scene.
For his efforts, the Puyallup man earned an Army Commendation with Valor. He also earned the right to mentor players in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio, TX.
For Walker, fighting with fellow soldiers in a war zone and fighting for a victory with a sports team have plenty in common.
"Bascially what the military taught me and it actually helped me inside the civilian world was the Army values," he told Patch during a phone interview from San Antonio this week. "Leadership. Just take care of each other on the battlefield and also on the field."
"A quarterback can't do his job without his linemen," he explained, "and obviously, games are won by the defense. Basically, just have each other's backs. Have integrity, loyalty, duty and respect everybody on the field. So it definitely goes hand-in-hand."
Walker isn't coming from only a military perspective. He also played high school football and eventually chose military service. He was chosen among a few soldiers to participate.
And the players in the U.S. Army game are some of the best in the country, some of them bound to play football on Saturdays, and perhaps even Sundays. Past participates include Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
But for every player that makes it to the pros, there are plenty of other who don't. One of the things that he's told players is there is life after football.
"Not everyone makes it to the NFL," said Walker, who played high school football himself. "There is life after football. One of the paths I chose was to serve in the U.S. Army, serve my country and also get a college degree, so you can also work outside the field."
Walker told Patch that he feels honored to represent JBLM and his fellow soldiers in San Antonio. On the personal side, he lives with his wife, Desiree, and their two children - Paeton, 4, and Kainoa, who just turned a year old.
(Click here to listen to my full interview with Walker, courtesy of the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)
The U.S. Army All American Bowl is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday and will be televised on NBC. For more information, click here.