Fort Campbell Soldiers steal show
November 20, 2009
- Football fans and Soldiers at LP Field soaked in the good weather during a celebratory day of Veterans Day events.
- A football field-sized American flag stretched from one end zone to the other, with the help of more than 150 Soldiers from Fort Campbell.
- Being a Tennessee Titan and former 101st Soldier, Ahmard Hall agreed this day held a special place for him.
- The 101st Airborne Division Army Band played the service song for each branch of the military during halftime.
Football fans and Soldiers at LP Field soaked in the good weather during a celebratory day of events accompanied by the Tennessee Titans taking the field against the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
The Titans stepped out in their 1960s uniforms resembling those worn by their flagship Oilers team for Sunday's Legacy Game in honor of Veterans Day. Sunday was the Titans' final appearance in the American Football League Legacy Series, according to a release before Sunday's game.
Soldiers provided a large turnout, even providing an appearance from Maj. Gen. John Campbell, commanding general of 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell. Many enjoyed a field-level view of the game and Veterans Day-themed ceremonies.
While the band Styx sang the National Anthem just before kickoff, a football field-sized American flag ballooned, stretching from one end zone to the other, with the help of more than 150 Soldiers from Fort Campbell.
Being a Tennessee Titan and former 101st Soldier, Ahmard Hall agreed this day held a special place for him, "Especially with the Tennessee Titans organization showing veterans their respect and love," Hall said after the game.
Hall told the Courier he had been out of the Army a while and said "I try to separate myself from it, because the guys who are currently and actively serving, deserve all the respect."
Having deployed to Afghanistan and Kosovo, he was proud of all those [Soldiers] who were able to come out and see the game. "It made it an awesome day."
Specialist Luis Valdez, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division helped the other Soldiers spread the flag across the field.
"There was a lot of practicing to make sure the flag was rolled out correctly," he said. "We had to make sure everything was perfect."
The other goal Valdez had for the day was to talk to anybody he had to, so he could get a football from a Titan player.
Being from Texas, he liked the Titans even before their existence, when they were the Houston Oilers. "Even though they're not doing that great right now, you still have to support them."
Valdez, who has been in the Army four years, explained that at times, being in the Army can seem routine, but moments like Sunday add to the value he sees in his job.
"It felt really good when we came out with the flag," Valdez said. "It got everyone standing up and applauding, and it gave me the feeling that 'Wow, I really am doing something.'"
Fort Campbell factored heavily into the halftime show featuring the 101st Airborne Division Army Band playing the song for each branch of the military. Campbell and a group of wounded Soldiers were also presented with a game ball.
Also helping out and enjoying the game, Pfc. Jason Jones, Charlie Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, took a moment for a dance with T-Rac the Titans' often unfortunate mascot. T-Rac was scraped from the road several years ago, escaping a brief life as roadkill for an extended stay as Nashville's beloved and cuddly NFL raccoon.
Jones, who also helped out with the flag said this was a different experience for him. "I've never experienced anything like it," he said.
Specialist Robert Patel, Bravo Company, Warrior Transition Unit, took account of the day after the game and ceremonies were over.
"What I enjoyed a lot was the pre-game show and when we were on the field," Patel said. "I enjoyed the game over all."
Patel said Nate Washington greeted Soldiers before the game and shook everyone's hand, adding that random players just started showing up after that.
As for the game, an 89-yard run by Chris Johnson on the starting play of the fourth quarter broke a franchise record of 216 yards rushing with his new record of 228 yards.
Going into the fourth quarter of play, the Titans and Bills were tied up, until the Titans pulled a fourth-quarter blast out of their back pocket for a 24-point run that helped them topple the Bills, 41-17.