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Eric Stonestreet gets in the game, helps out military service members

Eric Stonestreet takes part in the Homecoming Party Bowl at Cerritos College.
Ketchum

Eric Stonestreet recently took off his acting cap and exercised his love for football all in the name of America's military service men and women -- many of whom had just returned home for a short holiday break before being re-deployed overseas.

The "Modern Family" star took part in Tostitos Fiesta Bowl's on-field surprise party and game at Cerritos College,  outside Los Angeles, to celebrate the homecoming of veterans serving overseas. Working as sideline game reporter, the funnyman conducted interviews and mixed and mingled with the returning soldiers, who competed in a football game in front of 12,000 family, friends and fans.

"I was happy to do it," Stonestreet said of the recent game and party to benefit Got Your 6 and the Pat Tillman Foundation. "They call it the Homecoming Party Bowl, which is appropriately named; it literally was a party and these surprises just kept coming out, one after another...Imagine being told you're playing a pick-up flag football game to help some of your veterans out and end up having this giant party."

Some of those surprises included game appearances by actor Owen Wilson and football greats Kurt Warner and Marcus Allen. Also at the event were veteran college football coaches Bobby Bowden and Urban Meyer. Topped off with a concert by Gym Class Heroes, highlights from the event will air Thursday night as part of the Fiesta Bowl on ESPN.

"The people at Tostitos knew that I was a sports fan and knew that I had an interest in football and The Fiesta Bowl because my college, Kansas State, is in the Fiesta Bowl this year against the Oregon Ducks," said Stonestreet.

"They [the service members] just were so appreciative and couldn't believe everyone had done all this work." said the Emmy-award winning actor. "You forget that these guys are 23, 24, 25 -- 19 years old. These guys and girls are making such sacrifices for our country. They're all kids and you talk to them and you realize how amazing, humble and grounded and real and good they are...That's what I always take away when I talk to our service men and women -- just the amazing sense of pride that they have in what they do. It leaves me with pride in who they are."