Iraqi Freedom veteran and Paralympic athlete throws first pitch; new inductees raise hands, join mil
August 26, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, Aug. 26,2008) -- The Augusta GreenJackets' Olympics/Military Appreciation Night held Aug. 15 at Lake Olmstead in Augusta, Ga., was packed full of surprises. Fans of the Augusta GreenJackets broke a record Friday night, Aug. 15, when the season attendance passed the 177, 780 mark that was set a year ago, according to Billy Byler, a local sports writer with The Augusta Chronicle newspaper.
Minutes before the start of the game the size of the U.S. military grew just a bit. Before fans of the Augusta GreenJackets and their opponent for the night, the Lexington Legends, Col. Jack Bryant, chief of staff, U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, administered the enlistment oath to new inductees into the Army, Navy and Marines on the GreenJackets' baseball diamond. Local high school graduates and cadets from the Youth Challenge Academy at Fort Gordon took their initial enlistment oath along side of Soldiers from the 15th Regimental Signal Brigade who re-enlisted. [The Youth Challenge Academy, which opened with its first class in September 2000 at Fort Gordon, is a voluntary 22-week, residential program for "at risk" Georgia high school dropouts. It is sponsored by the state's National Guard. Cadets are given an opportunity to turn their lives around by acquiring life skills and their General Education Diploma.]
Following the enlistment, Stephanie Flowers, a local vocalist, sang the national anthem and members of the Fort Gordon Installation Support Platoon joined her as the color detail for the event. Scott Winkler, a contender in the 2008 Paralympic Games, which will be held Sept. 6-17 in Beijing, China, threw out the first pitch prior to the start of the game. The Grovetown, Ga., resident and Iraq veteran will be competing in the adaptive shot put. The Army veteran was paralyzed from the chest down after falling from an ammo truck in Iraq in 2003.
Winker earned the World record in shot put in the 2007 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field National Championships in Atlanta, Ga. He also won the Gold medal in shot put and the Bronze medal in discus in the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year he took first place and the Americas record in F55 shot put during the U.S. Paralympic Trials in Track and Field in Mesa, Ariz.
Winker, an avid GreenJackets fan, remained for the game against Lexington Legends.
Sandwiched between the seventh and eighth innings fans of the Augusta GreenJackets and the Lexington Legends received a pleasant surprise. Members of the 15th Signal Brigade proudly rose, stood at attention and recited the "Warrior's Ethos." They were led by Sgt. 1st Class David DeLuca, a senior platoon sergeant, of Company C, 551st Signal Battalion from Fort Gordon. The crowd went wild with enthusiasm and gave the Soldiers a standing ovation.
The GreenJackets, a minor league baseball team that plays in Augusta, Ga. as a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, mowed down the Lexington Legends 7-0.