On May 12, 2018, as students from Las Cruces High School in New Mexico took the field to participate in, up to that point, the most important game of their lives, one Army Soldier showed his support as he watched the game in the middle of the night.
No, the game wasn't a night game, but for U.S. Army Capt. Jason Kidd, a clinical social work officer deployed in support of operations in the Middle East, catching his home town team play for a state championship through a live-stream on social media was an opportunity he wasn't going to pass up.
Most of the students, the 2018 Softball Class 6A State Champions, were surprised during a spring sports pep rally at Las Cruces High School, April 5, as Kidd, assigned to William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, presented the team with a U.S. flag flown in Iraq, in appreciation for their accomplishments, during the game he watched while in a world away in the deserts of Iraq.
"It's just another way to give back to the community to the school," said Kidd, clinical director for the Fort Bliss Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care (SUDCC) program and chief of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division's Embedded Behavioral Health.
Kidd also presented two additional flags to the "Bulldawgs" principal and LCHS senior, Dezi Martinez, one of the state championship team's players, whom Kidd had first coached in a tee ball league.
"As a high school student you may not realize how these teachers are trying to steer you in the right direction, to success," said Kidd. "This is just a little token of appreciation to let them know I appreciate what they've done."
While deployed, Kidd provided behavioral health services for service members throughout the Area of Operations in Kuwait and Northern Iraq, initiating several programs to increase moral and minimize stress for hundreds.
Kidd, who graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1995 and later attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, heard about the team's successful season through a childhood friend who now coaches the team.
"I was actually up from three to five in the morning watching them win the tournament," said Kidd. "I was super excited for them, and they boosted my morale while I was downrange."
The recent mission marks Kidd's fourth deployment, with two deployments to Africa, and one to Ukraine throughout his 11-year career in the Army.