10/28/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/28/2021 09:22
"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary."
These words, attributed to legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, have been among Omar Azmitia's guiding principles ever since he discovered football at age 12.
"I've learned through life that, in America, there is nothing you can't achieve as long as you are willing to work hard for it," Omar says. "I truly believe that and have strived to make that a motto in my life."
Omar was born in Guatemala. His family came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old but returned to Guatemala when he was in third grade to help care for his grandmother, who was ill. When he returned to the U.S. at age 12, his family settled in Anaheim, California. He was very familiar with soccer but knew nothing about American football.
"Wanting to learn the sport so I could play with the other kids, I went to the library to research the sport," Omar says. "Well, as I was reading, a lot of the NFL's history is cemented around the Packers-Vince Lombardi, Super Bowl I, the Ice Bowl. I decided to make them my team."
Laura Azmitia grew up a fan of college football. She is a huge fan of the University of Georgia. When the couple married in 2004, they agreed that Omar would be a UGA fan and Laura would be a Packers fan, Omar says. "And we never looked back," he adds.
"When my buddy Mark called me to tell me that I had been selected to attend a Packers game at Lambeau Field, I really didn't believe him," Omar says. "But the more and more he talked about it-and my wife told me that it was something they had been working on for months-I went in a bit of shock. I had to sit down and gather my wits to fully comprehend the magnitude of this."
The family received four tickets to the game against Washington, plus a $150 gift card for the Packers Pro Shop, courtesy of WPS. Omar, Laura, their son, Christopher, and Mark Michel, the friend who nominated the couple, traveled to Lambeau the Friday before the game to spend some time in Green Bay and see some of the sights.
Omar says, "Although I have been to Packers games in person before, I've never had the privilege to do so in Lambeau." The family purchased new Packers gear and was decked out for the game.
Before the game, Christopher was pumped. "When we told him what was going to happen, he was thrilled," Omar says. "This will be his first live NFL game, and it being in Lambeau is amazing."
The couple met in the Navy while stationed in San Diego in late 2002. "Although being a dual military [family] has had its challenges, deployments and moving every few years, Laura and I got through it together," Omar says.
Omar and Laura have served a combined 49 years of military service in the U.S. Navy. Both served as Hospital Corpsmen, taking care of countless servicemen and women injured while serving. Laura, a native of Georgia, enlisted in October 1993, and Omar enlisted in 1995.
Both worked on ships, in hospitals ashore, and embedded with Marine Corps units around the world. "While serving in the Navy, I have traveled to 16 different countries and two combat tours in Iraq," Omar says. His favorite country to visit was Italy, he says without hesitation. "So much history. And the food is amazing," he shares.
Now, the couple's military careers have come to an end. Omar retired from the Navy on Oct. 15 with 27 years of service and the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. Laura retired in 2016 after fulfilling 22 years of service with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
"It'll be good to finally settle down and allow our kids to grow roots," Omar says. The couple has opened their shop to enjoy in their retirement. Omar has turned his lifelong hobby of woodworking into a business. The family resides in Pensacola, Florida.
Operation Fan Mail recognizes military families and veterans at each Packers home game. The program marks its 15th season in 2021. The Azmitias are the 141st honorees of the program, sponsored by WPS Health Solutions and the Green Bay Packers.See another military family recognized here.
The Packers and WPS Health Solutions invite interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular family deserves a salute this year. Possible honoree families must have a member serving on active duty, or a member who is a veteran. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter, or sibling.
Essays can be sent to Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628 or online at operationfanmail.com.
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