CHARLOTTE – Two Marines surprised with a trip to Super Bowl LI will head to Houston on Friday with their guests for the big game.
Staff Sgt. Jacob Sammler and Master Gunnery Sgt. Billy Shaver, both stationed in North Carolina, were rewarded an all-expenses paid trip to Sunday's showdown between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.
"The Carolina Panthers, along with our partners Bank of America and USO of North Carolina, are pleased to provide this experience to Staff Sgt. Sammler and Master Gunnery Sgt. Shaver in gratitude for their service to our country, as well as their unwavering support for the Panthers," Panthers Military and Football Outreach Manager Peter Vacho said.
The Marines and their families were surprised with the trips at the Panthers' final home game of the season on Christmas Eve against the Falcons.
Sammler, currently assigned to the Marine Corps Liaison at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Charlotte, has been a Panthers fan since the franchise's debut in 1995. He cheered them on through his service including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Shaver, a communications chief at Marine Corps Special Operations Command in Camp Lejeune, adopted the Panthers from their inception and passed his fandom on to his son, Wade. The special bond created has provided meaningful shared experiences during multiple moves and eight overseas deployments.