Military Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium
Saturday was Military Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees paid tribute to members of the United States Military and in particular to the United States Special Operations Command. Special Operations consists of 62,000 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel that provides highly trained, rapidly deployable and regionally focused personnel in support of global requirements.
The Special Operations Command was the first on the ground in Afghanistan and during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are the most skilled and elite members of the military and are the backbone of the U.S. Armed Forces. Unfortunately, not all of amazing soldiers are fortunate to make it home. For the past 32 years, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation has been supporting families of those fallen Special Operations personnel by providing full college scholarships to their children.
In a pregame ceremony at the plate, Yankees managing general partner and member of the Warrior Foundation board of directors, Hal Steinbrenner and his wife Christina, were joined by Retired Air Force Colonel John Carney, former Commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group and president of the Warrior Foundation.
Other special individuals who took part in the ceremony:
Chad Patton, the son of U.S. Army Sergeant Major Jerry Patton, who lost his life in a parachute accident in 2008. Through funding by the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Chad Patton graduated from Campbell University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Sports Science. He currently serves as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Tori Johnson, the daughter of Air Force Tech Sergeant Robert Johnson, who died in an aircraft incident in 2002. Through funding by the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Tori Johnson graduated from Gonzaga University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations.
Neil Friedman and his wife Amanda presented a $50,000 check to the Warrior Foundation on behalf of their Friedman Family Foundation.
Caitlin and Tommy Clancy presented a check for $75,000 from the CohnReznick 22nd Annual Charity Golf Invitational to bring its total contribution to the Warrior Foundation to nearly $600,000. CohnReznick Cares, the charitable initiative of CohnReznick – the 11th largest accounting, tax and advisory firm in the United States – supports children in need.
The Brass Unit from the 99th Regional Army Support Band, consisting of members from the 94th Army Band of East Windsor, Conn., and the 78th Army Band of Fort Dix, N.J., performed the Armed Forces Medley while local active service members were positioned on the outfield warning track.
The New York City Joint Service Color Guard presented the colors. In center field, a giant American flag was unfurled by active duty members representing all branches of the military during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. A moment of silence was observed in honor of the late Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner III, who passed away three years ago Saturday.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by U.S. Air Force Colonel Shelley Rodriguez, a 20-year Air Force Special Operations veteran and an evaluator pilot with more than 3,400 hours in the MC-130P Combat Shadow. She has commanded troops in Afghanistan, leading forces in the Battle of Marjeh, the largest battle since the start of the war. Under her command, her troops pioneered four separate command firsts, changing the tactics of special operations aviation on the battlefield. For the past four years, Col. Rodriguez has served as Commander of the 67th Special Operations Squadron in Mildenhall, England.
The Yankees wore camouflage-style caps and uniform jersey numbers during the game against the Twins in honor of Military Appreciation Day.