Spurs Share Spotlight With Soldiers

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Fort Sam Houston, Texas -- The 14th Military Intelligence Battalion and the 201st MI Battalion, both subordinate units of the 470th MI Brigade based here, received recognition before and during the Spurs-Trail Blazers basketball game March 8 as part of Military Appreciation Night.   The 201st MI Battalion was primarily represented in person at the AT&T Center by a 10-year-old girl named Madison. Her father is serving in Afghanistan with most of the battalion's Soldiers. She and her mother knew that was one reason she was selected to present the first basketball used in the game. What neither knew was that just before that happened, everyone's attention would be drawn to the Jumbotron, the big multi screen high above the floor, to see and hear a special 15-second message from her father, pre-recorded less than a week before in Afghanistan.   Madison's smile and her mother's tears expressed their reaction better than words.   During half time, about 40 Soldiers of the 14th MI Battalion, who returned from Afghanistan the previous October after a year's deployment, formed up on the playing floor. While images of the 14th flashed on the Jumbotron, a brief outline of the battalion's accomplishments sounded over the speakers and the audience cheered with obvious enthusiasm.

"It was an outstanding event," said Maj. Douglas Zimmerman, battalion executive officer. "It highlighted the efforts and the sacrifices our Soldiers have made. And we got a cool coin too!"  

Representatives of the USAA insurance company, which sponsored Military Appreciation Night, presented a "challenge coin" to every Soldier. Each coin featured the Spurs logo on one side and the USAA logo on the other. The company representatives who shook each Soldier's hand were themselves former military; in fact, they were retired high-ranking military officers.   After the Soldiers filed off the floor, they returned to their suite to watch the rest of the Spurs game in comfort with refreshments close at hand.

"I have been on six deployments," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Miller. "This is my first time to be treated like this. It was great to see how we were appreciated by USAA and all the crowd."   Unquestionably, the event provided the 14th MI Battalion with its biggest public recognition as a unit. The battalion is scheduled for inactivation this summer.

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