APG celebrates Military Appreciation Night with IronBirds ballgame

By Maya GreenJuly 12, 2023

Edmonson and Ripcord
Maj. Gen. Robert L. Edmonson II, Aberdeen Proving Ground senior commander and commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, poses for a picture with the Aberdeen IronBirds mascot, Ripcord, during the annual Military Appreciation Night at Ripken Stadium on June 30, 2023. (Photo Credit: Sean Kief, CECOM PAO) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN, Md. — The Aberdeen IronBirds, the High-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, held their annual Military Appreciation Night at Ledios Field at Ripken Stadium on June 30, 2023. Aberdeen Proving Ground and military organizations boasted informative booths and interactive exhibits for attendees with freebies and demonstrations showcasing the military’s vast capabilities.

Due to inclement weather the game was delayed over an hour, but this allowed patrons more time to learn more about the opportunities the military has to offer.

Outside the stadium, visitors viewed military vehicle displays from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command; U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity; U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command; a helmet car from APG Garrison and a crash truck from the Directorate of Operations. The visitors took photos and had the opportunity to ask questions to the Soldiers and civilians operating the vehicles.

At the stadium entrance was the main attraction; a “Be All You Can Be” display. There were four photobooths where attendees could pose in life-size cutouts of Soldiers in various areas of the Army like communications, bomb disposal, paratroop and helicopter piloting. Attendees could envision their future as a Soldier.

APG’s infamous mascot Col. Baldwin the Bald Eagle greeted guests as they entered, posing with Harford County families and APG personnel.

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Edmonson II, APG senior commander and U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command commanding general, welcomed the crowd to open the game. In celebration of Military Appreciation Night and the Army’s birthday, Edmonson highlighted the Gold Star families, Future Force and veterans who served as the event’s special guests. The Army and installation were great because of them and the community, he said before being met with a roaring crowd.

The ceremonial first pitch was given by two teens representing the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and a future Soldier. They pitched to baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. who played 21 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles and attended Aberdeen High School.

Following the first pitch, APG veterans, future Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, enlisted Soldiers and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10028 took to the field to display a 40-yard American flag for the national anthem, sung by Staff Sgt. Larita Fullwood.

Between innings, Baldwin played Sgt. Says, a spin-off of the game Simon Says, with the crowd.

At the bottom of the fourth inning, local enlistees were honored by the announcer and the crowd for their voluntary commitment to serve the Army. Their promises were met with a standing ovation from the ballgame’s attendees and senior Army leadership.

The IronBirds ended the night winning with a close game of 4-3. In tradition of Friday games, Ripken Stadium rewarded attendees with a stunning display of fireworks.

Becca Nappi, CECOM public affairs specialist, was the event organizer for the evening’s festivities and shared what she hoped attendees took away from Military Appreciation Night.

"It's important that our community has opportunities to picture themselves as Soldiers in order to see the endless possibilities our Army offers,” she said. “Whether it's literally placing them into a career field to show them how they'd look as an Army aviator or EOD tech or having them get hands on with medical equipment or night-vision technology; the Army can help you discover and explore your life passions."

To see photos from the evening, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAM15z and https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAKT8Z.