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Armed Forces Bowl puts military might on display

U.S. Army paratroopers deliver the game ball before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

U.S. Army paratroopers deliver the game ball before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Secretary of the Air Force Micheal B. Donley (center) and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz (right) salute during the national anthem while F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 301st Fighter Wing perform a fly-over before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston on Dec. 31 at Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Secretary of the Air Force Micheal B. Donley (center) and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz (right) salute during the national anthem while F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 301st Fighter Wing perform a fly-over before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston on Dec. 31 at Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon football players stretch before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the Falcons and the University of Houston Cougars on Dec. 31 at the Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon football players stretch before the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the Falcons and the University of Houston Cougars on Dec. 31 at the Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

A young fan shows his team pride for Chaz Demerath, #82 of the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons, during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force and the University of Houston Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

A young fan shows his team pride for Chaz Demerath, #82 of the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons, during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force and the University of Houston Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Falcon fans celebrate a touchdown during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons and the University of Houston Cougars Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Falcon fans celebrate a touchdown during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons and the University of Houston Cougars Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, is honored with the Armed Forces Insurance Great American Patriot Award during half time of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston, Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, is honored with the Armed Forces Insurance Great American Patriot Award during half time of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston, Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

U.S. Air Force Academy football players stand together in honoring alumni and fans at the conclusion of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas. Air Force lost to Houston, 34-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

U.S. Air Force Academy football players stand together in honoring alumni and fans at the conclusion of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas. Air Force lost to Houston, 34-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Gavin Sanchez, 2, sits in the rescue basket of a MH-65 Dolphin at a U.S. Coast Guard exhibit during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Gavin Sanchez, 2, sits in the rescue basket of a MH-65 Dolphin at a U.S. Coast Guard exhibit during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Jonathan Hardy, 6, sits atop an armored personnel vehicle at an U.S. Army exhibit during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Jonathan Hardy, 6, sits atop an armored personnel vehicle at an U.S. Army exhibit during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Wounded in Iraq in May 2007, former Army Lt. Col. Greg Gadson speaks Dec. 30 during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl luncheon. Colonel Gadson gave a motivational speech to the University of Houston Cougars and the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons teams at the luncheon. (Department of Defense photo/Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey)
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Wounded in Iraq in May 2007, former Army Lt. Col. Greg Gadson speaks Dec. 30 during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl luncheon. Colonel Gadson gave a motivational speech to the University of Houston Cougars and the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons teams at the luncheon. (Department of Defense photo/Lance Cpl. Bryan G. Carfrey)

U.S. Coast Guard mascot "Coastie" chases children and sprays them with water during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 at the Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The celebration was for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at the stadium Dec. 31.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis)
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U.S. Coast Guard mascot "Coastie" chases children and sprays them with water during the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 at the Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The celebration was for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at the stadium Dec. 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis)

A fireworks display concludes the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30  held for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 31. Air Force lost to Houston, 34-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)
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A fireworks display concludes the Adventure Day celebration and pep rally Dec. 30 held for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Houston at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 31. Air Force lost to Houston, 34-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AFNS) -- The sixth annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl football game featured the Houston Cougars (7-5) taking on the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons (8-4) on Dec. 31 at the Amon G. Carter Stadium here.
 
Kickoff for the Armed Forces Bowl was noon Eastern, but the event started more than 24-hours prior to the kickoff when both teams were welcomed to Fort Worth with a luncheon at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Dec. 30. 

Retired Army Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who survived severe injuries following a road-side bomb attack while deployed to Iraq, was the keynote speaker. Colonel Gadson was credited by the New York Giants football team for giving them the inspiration to turn their 0-2 season start into a Superbowl-winning season.

Outside the stadium, home of Texas Christian University's Horned Frogs, there was an "Adventure Zone" set up featuring almost 60 displays of military might from all the armed services. 

"My son loves all the guns and tanks and we've had a really good time; it is wonderful here," said Ali Rattan, one of the spectators at the Adventure Zone on Dec. 30. 

"A lot of people are coming out to see what the different services have to offer, and we get to put on display some of the equipment they have never seen before," said Marine Cpl. John Luis, an artillery canoneer. "They get to ask a lot of questions and we get to interact with them. It's really an awesome event." 

The day's events were closed out by a pep rally for both teams, culminating in a 10-minute fireworks display.

Prior to the game start on Dec. 31, pre-game festivities included a skydiving demonstration by a combined team of different types of Army paratroopers, and an Air Force flyover that included two F-16 Fighting Falcons and a B-52 Stratofortress. Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, flanked by senior service representatives, performed the coin toss. 

"It just makes me absolutely proud to be here, it's a phenomenal event," said Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Vangjel, commanding general of the United States Fires Center and Fort Sill, Okla. "It's nice to stop and think about all the folks in the armed forces, the impact we have on the nation, and to celebrate together with all the other services." 

More than 40,000 tickets sold for the bowl game. 

"It's a terrific opportunity, and not just for the Air Force, said Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz. "We are representing the entire joint team: Army, Navy, certainly the Air Force, and the Marines." 

The halftime ceremonies included General Petraeus receiving the Great American Patriot of the Year Award from Tom Dials, chief executive officer of Armed Forces Insurance, and an oath of enlistment ceremony officiated by General Patraeus for more than 100 future servicemembers from all branches of service. The Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team ended the ceremony with their aerial demonstration. 

During each quarter of the game, Armed Forces Bowl officials also spotlighted a different branch of service by running public service announcements on the "Jumbotron." 

For the bowl game itself, Air Force lost to Houston, 34-28.

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