• Ten-year-old Madison, daughter of a noncommissioned officer deployed to Afghanistan, beams with delight as she watches a pre-recorded audio-video message from her father on the big screen during Military Appreciation Night in San Antonio's AT&T Center, March 8. Madison knew she was selected to hand present the basketball at the beginning of the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers NBA game, but she was surprised by the message from Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Surprise from Above

    Ten-year-old Madison, daughter of a noncommissioned officer deployed to Afghanistan, beams with delight as she watches a pre-recorded audio-video message from her father on the big screen during Military Appreciation Night in San Antonio's AT&T Center...

  • A staff sergeant deployed to Afghanistan the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, speaks to his 10-year-old daughter, Madison, through a pre-recorded message broadcast over the AT&T Center's big screen in San Antonio, March 8, during Military Appreciation Night at a San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers NBA game. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Message from Afghanistan

    A staff sergeant deployed to Afghanistan the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, speaks to his 10-year-old daughter, Madison, through a pre-recorded message broadcast over the AT&T Center's big screen in San Antonio, March 8, during Military...

  • Ten-year-old Madison, daughter of a noncommissioned officer deployed to Afghanistan, and her mother share tears of joy after seeing and hearing her father's message. It was a surprise for both of them during Military Appreciation Night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, March 8. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Tears of Joy

    Ten-year-old Madison, daughter of a noncommissioned officer deployed to Afghanistan, and her mother share tears of joy after seeing and hearing her father's message. It was a surprise for both of them during Military Appreciation Night at the AT&T...

  • The "challenge coin" presented to the Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion by USAA representatives, March 8, features the Spurs Basketball Team logo on one side and the insurance company's logo on the other side. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Tokens of Appreciation

    The "challenge coin" presented to the Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion by USAA representatives, March 8, features the Spurs Basketball Team logo on one side and the insurance company's logo on the other side. (U.S. Army photo by...

  • Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion receive "challenge coins" from representatives of USAA. The insurance company sponsored the San Antonio Spurs Military Appreciation Night, March 8, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Coin Presentation

    Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion receive "challenge coins" from representatives of USAA. The insurance company sponsored the San Antonio Spurs Military Appreciation Night, March 8, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. (U.S. Army photo...

  • A representative of USAA presents a "challenge coin" to a member of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion. The insurance company sponsored the San Antonio Spurs Military Appreciation Night, March 8, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Coin Handshake

    A representative of USAA presents a "challenge coin" to a member of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion. The insurance company sponsored the San Antonio Spurs Military Appreciation Night, March 8, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. (U.S. Army...

  • Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion wave in response to the load cheers from the audience during half time at the Spurs-Trail Blazers NBA game played, March 8, in San Antonio's AT&T Center. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Responding to Cheers

    Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion wave in response to the load cheers from the audience during half time at the Spurs-Trail Blazers NBA game played, March 8, in San Antonio's AT&T Center. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th...

  • Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion wave to the audience as they leave the playing court of the AT&T Center during halftime at the March 8 NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Soldiers' recognition was part of Military Appreciation Night. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs)

    Public Recognition

    Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion wave to the audience as they leave the playing court of the AT&T Center during halftime at the March 8 NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Soldiers' recognition...

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The 14th Military Intelligence Battalion and the 201st MI Battalion, both subordinate units of the 470th MI Brigade based on Fort Sam Houston, received recognition before and during the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers NBA basketball game, March 8, as part of Military Appreciation Night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The 201st MI Battalion was primarily represented in person by 10-year-old Madison, daughter of a deployed service member. 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 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 halftime, about 40 Soldiers of the 14th MI Battalion, who returned from Afghanistan the previous October after a year-long deployment, gathered on the playing court to be honored. While images of the 14th MI Battalion flashed on the screen, a brief outline of the battalion's accomplishments sounded over the speakers. 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 present on court. 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, each 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.

Page last updated Tue March 19th, 2013 at 11:06