Decorated Veterans, Top Players Honored at Bowl Banquet
January 5, 2008
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Army News Service, Jan. 4, 2008) -- From the battlefield to the football field, Soldier heroes here are sharing their stories, experience and leadership with America's most talented high school football players at the eighth annual Army All-American Bowl.
At an awards dinner the night before the Jan. 5 game, at the convention center located near the Alamodome, Soldiers displayed war medals on crisp uniforms as they joined with the all stars to recognize the player of the year and others. They listened to inspirational words spoken by NFL Hall of Fame great Gale Sayers, the San Antonio mayor, and secretary of the Army to name a few, in front of hundreds of Soldiers, players, three Medal of Honor recipients, and family members.
Army All-American East team quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa., was named Player of the Year.
"It's pretty interesting hearing their stories and all," said West team player Covaughn Deboskie, of Chandler, Ariz., of the Soldier-heroes.
"I'd like to learn more about their medals," said West team linebacker Dravannti Johnson, of Nederland, Texas. He later asked a Soldier what "stars" meant on his uniform. Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commanding general, Accessions Command, politely explained the difference between the ranks from brigadier general to general.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston explained how being selected for this event is an honor and reward for the Soldier heroes who are here to interact with the players. Army Sgt. Gregory Rayho said although the players are focused on football, they enjoy hearing about the lives of combat veterans. Rayho was awarded the Purple Heart and has served twice in Iraq.
Ninety-one heroes are here representing the Army at its largest public recruiting activity of the year. All have combat experience and have been awarded medals such as the Purple Heart, Bronze Star or Silver Star. They are here to represent the Army core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Soldier heroes here have been recognized as ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
(Michael Tolzmann is a writer and editor for the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service.)