The Steelers honored military veterans prior to tonight’s game against the Chiefs as a part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service.’
Veterans from each war dating back to World War II were honored in a pregame ceremony on the field just prior to the National Anthem.
The veterans that were honored included the following:
Steve Jager, 92, from Arnold, Pa., who was stationed at Schofield Barracks when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Army veteran survived and spent the next four years fighting in World War II.
Harry Hagerman, 89, from Pittsburgh, served as an Amy Tank Gunner in World War II. Hagerman, a Steelers season ticket holder for over 35 years, was a Purple Heart recipient after being injured in combat.
Lt. Wendell Freeland represented the Tuskegee Airman, the famed group of African American WWII flyers. He was a bombardier aboard a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber in the 477th Bombardment Group.
Representing the Korean War was Sgt. Nick Tisak from Ambridge. Tisak was a member of the 8th Airborne Ranger Company, injured when he was shot in the leg in the battle of “Hill 628. “
“It is one of the nicest things that ever happened to me in my life for no other reason than we went where we had to go, did what we had to do and it’s nice someone shows the appreciation for it,” said Tisak. “It’s a great honor to be here. Not only for myself, but the men I was in combat with.”
Corporal Bob Kennedy from Pittsburgh served in the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne Vietnam War. Kennedy was a combat infantryman who participated in over 25 combat assaults and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star.
“It’s extraordinary that the Steelers honor the veterans every year and especially not forgetting all of the veterans,” said Kennedy. “You can look around and see all of the wars, and the Steelers should be commended for honoring all of the veterans. It’s quite an honor to be here. I am happy to represent the Army. To see all of the other warriors that have a combat infantry background is exhilarating and the Steelers should be commended for it.”
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm was represented by Sergeant Robert Lessman, Jr. from Greensburg, Pa. Lessman served with the Army Reserve’s 14th Quartermaster Detachment that was attacked by an Iraqi SCUD Missile that destroyed the barracks. Lessman received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in the attack.
Sgt. Adam Bouse from Cranberry Township, Pa., served with the 10th Mountain Infantry during the Iraqi War. He was awarded a Commendation Medal for Valor for providing life saving first aid and evacuating four wounded soldiers, while under enemy indirect fire.
Sgt. Zach Stinson from Shippensburg, Pa., served in the Marine Corps during the Afghanistan War. Stinson stepped on an IED, causing him to have both of his legs amputated as well as his fingers. Stinson has spent the last two years in the hospital, and was able to come from Walter Reed National Medical Center for the game.
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Three members of the squadron that did the flyover were at Heinz Field before the game to handle the logistics.
After the National Anthem there was a flyover by two Marine Harrier jets in honor of Lt. Col. Christopher “Otis” Raible of Irwin, Pa.
Raible, who commanded a Marine Harrier jet squadron, was killed along with Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell in a Taliban attack on a NATO base in Afghanistan in September.
“We are humbled the Steelers asked us to do this. It being Veteran’s Day it’s a huge honor to be asked to flyover for any members of our fallen, especially when it’s for a dear friend like Lieutenant Colonel Raible was,” said Lt. Col. William R. Sauerland, Commanding Officer of Marine Attack Squadron 223 who piloted one of the flyover jets along with Captain Eric Albright. “It is humbling for me personally and for the squadron. After it happened we were shocked. We all came together and this is our way of saying goodbye to him.”
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In honor of Veteran’s Day and the NFL’s “Salute to Service,” sideline personnel and team staff will be wearing camouflage NFL ribbon pins during the game. Players will have ribbon stickers on their helmets, as well as stickers representing different branches of the military.
“Salute to Service” banners were hung on field level, sideline Gatorade towels were camouflage and the game balls all had the camouflage NFL ribbon. In addition a commemorative coin was used for the coin toss.
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USAA sponsored a stadium-wide ‘card stunt’ at the beginning of the National Anthem to honor veterans. USAA also sponsored the Steelers visit to the 171st Air Refueling Wing on Nov. 6 and honored current and retired military at Monday night’s game.
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The Color Guard for the Steelers-Chiefs game is the Military Funeral Honor Guard of the VFW Post 1810 in Brentwood in honor of Veterans Day.
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Leading the Terrible Towel Twirl before the game was McKayla Maroney (right), a member of the United States Olympic Gold Medal gymnastics team as well as Lisa Marie Presley (middle), daughter of Elvis Presley, and veteran Andre L. Brown (left), the winner of this week’s “My Pittsburgh Steelers” fan contest, who is featured on the game ticket.
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Boy Scout Troop 400 from Mars, Pa., and Troop 28 from the Bower Hill Presbyterian Church of Mt. Lebanon held a large field flag during the National Anthem.
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Andre Brown is this week’s winner of the “My Pittsburgh Steelers” contest and is featured on tonight’s game ticket. Brown is a Major in the U.S. Air Force and has served for 14 years, returning home in June from deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.
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Eden Edge, an up-and-coming country group, are performing the National Anthem prior to the game. Fireworks will be shot off of the top of Heinz Field and from barges on the river during the Anthem by Zambelli International.
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Fans attending the game donated at kettles that were placed throughout Heinz Field, raising funds for The Salvation Army Disaster Relief/Hurricane Sandy Kettle Collection.
For those not attending the game but wish to support The Steelers Salvation Army Disaster Relief/Hurricane Sandy Kettle Collection, donations can be made by clicking on “Steelers Online Red Kettle.”
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