By By John Harlow/NSSC Public Affairs OfficerNovember 13, 2009
BOSTON (Nov. 13, 2009) - It was Military Appreciation night at the TD Garden last night and several hundred Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen were on hand for the Bruins 1-0 shootout loss against the Florida Panthers.
The Bruins along with the United Service Organization (USO) teamed up with Bruins season ticket holders for Tickets for Troops night. Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart played a big role in the successful evening by donating $5,000 in tickets to the Soldiers.
"I think it was great what the Bruins did to show support to our Soldiers," said Sgt. Maj. John Poff, the Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) senior enlisted advisor. "Everyone went out of their way to make the night special."
It was a special night for service members who are serving, and those who had previously worn the uniform of the United States. After the Joint Force Color Guard which featured three Soldiers from NSSC, Sgt.1st Class Robert Hornbrook of Quincy, Mass., who is retiring from active duty service, dropped the ceremonial first puck.
Between the second and third periods, Norma Leon, an Army wife brought her family to the game to enjoy a night of hockey. Her husband, Juan Carlos is serving in Iraq. Following the second period, a special message appeared on the Bruins jumbotron. Norma and her children received a huge surprise when her husband appeared on the big screen.
"It was very touching," said Poff. "To connect a Soldier serving with his family was great. What even made it better was the thousands of fans who gave a standing ovation after the connection."
Following the game, Stuart met with 50 service members. He took time to thank them for their service and the service members thanked Stuart for his generosity.
"What Mark Stuart did last night was very exciting," said Poff. "His team just lost a 1-0 game in a shootout and he comes out, shakes hands, hears their stories and gets his picture taken with them. It was the conclusion to a fantastic night."
Because of the generosity of Stuart, the Bruins and USO, fifteen Soldiers from NSSC received an evening of hockey and the thanks from thousands of fans in the garden.