FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers representing Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division and the Warrior Transition Battalion were honored for their service to the nation by the Denver Broncos Nov. 18, during pregame and halftime festivities at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
The Denver Broncos, in association with United Services Automobile Association, opened the doors to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium to honor members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service Campaign.
The Soldiers joined Airmen from Peterson and Buckley Air Force bases, Sailors from the Navy recruiting office in Denver and Coast Guardsmen were recognized in pregame and halftime ceremonies.
Among the dignitaries from Fort Carson were Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson; Brig. Gen. Darsie Rogers, deputy commanding general for support, 4th Inf. Div.; Brig. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves, deputy commanding general for maneuver, 4th Inf. Div.; Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Stall, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson.
After the pregame rehearsal, the servicemembers and their Families were escorted to a VIP area of the stadium where they were greeted by members of the Broncos organization, past and present, and representatives from USAA who presented them with gift bags. Among the former Broncos that signed autographs and visited with the military members were former quarterback Jake Plummer, former wide receiver Vance Johnson and former offensive lineman Tom Graham.
Joe Ellis, Denver Broncos team president, said the organization was proud to host the servicemembers and their Families.
"We are appreciative of everyone here and all that you do for our country," Ellis said.
"On behalf of Mr. (Pat) Bowlen (DenverBroncos owner), I would like to say thank you to all the men and women who serve our country. You allow us to do what we do and we are here today to thank you on this beautiful day, in this beautiful stadium. But this athletic competition today pales in comparison to what you do for our country each day and we are grateful and we thank you for your service."
Anderson said it was a pleasure to be with members of each of the branches of service at the event.
"On behalf of all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, I would like to thank the Broncos for what they're doing for us today and USAA for what they do for us every day," Anderson said. "We appreciate the gesture and we appreciate the opportunity to come and see a professional football game today. To all the military members here today, thank you for your service; and to all the Family members, thanks for all the sacrifice and love that you give so that we are able to do our job."
Football fans showed their appreciation to the military members with rousing ovations following their participation in pregame and halftime activities, but the fans weren't the only grateful ones, according to Stephanie Kennedy, wife of Capt. Leigh Kennedy, a company commander with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div.
"It's very special to honor the military because where the military are heroes for a lot of people, a lot of these NFL players are heroes to people in the military," Stephanie Kennedy said. "Our military people are very happy to be here today and are extremely honored that they can be on the same field as NFL players."
"It (means) a lot for me to see the servicemembers recognized because they've done a great job and many of them are getting back from deployment and some are getting ready to go on a deployment. The fact that they have the opportunity to take their mind off of what they do each day, if only for a little while, is very important," she said.