Steelers honor Military Veterans

November 12, 2012 by Teresa Varley

Veterans before the game with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

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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