CHICAGO, Ill - Chicago remembered its Nation's Veterans this past Sunday, November 11, as the National Football League's (NFL) Chicago Bears hosted its annual Veterans Day game at Soldier Field, this year playing the Houston Texans.
The military participation, coordinated by the Army Public Affairs Mid-West office, included members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and Pentagon representatives.
The NFL and U.S. Army have partnered this season in addressing and preventing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) issues and furthering awareness.
In support of this effort, prior to the game, Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, Commanding General, Installation Management (IMCOM), took part in a Traumatic Brain Injury forum with Ted Phillips, CEO and President of the Chicago Bears, as part of a panel discussion.
During the forum moderated by Frank Luntz, service-members participated in pertinent discussions on TBI-related experiences and similarities between Soldiers and NFL players.
Also included in the TBI panel were: Elizabeth M. Pieroth, Board Certified Neuropsychologist; Otis Wilson, Linebacker with the Bears from 1980-1987; Gary Fencik, Safety with the Bears from 1976-1987 and Col. Andrea Crunkhorn, Army Medical Specialist Corps.
Following the forum, Ferriter met with service-members as they prepared to step onto the field for the 100 service-member flag unfurling; presentation of the Nation's Colors by the Chicago Recruiting Battalion; and the National Anthem, performed by the West Point Glee Club.
Leading the Chicago Bears onto the field was Master Sgt. Gilbert Garrett, 85th Support Command, charging across the field as they introduced the Bears team. Currently, the Chicago Bears are the only known NFL team led onto the field by a U.S. Soldier with the American Flag during this game.
"In looking back at all my military experiences, I would have to say that this really ranked up there," said Garrett. "It was a real honor to receive this experience."
During his visit, Garrett met with Ferriter; Retired Maj. Gen. John E. Scully, (currently the Civilian Aide to the Sec. of the Army for the State of Illinois); John May, Chairman and Alison Ruble, President and COO of the USO of Ill. and other distinguished visitors.
During the half time show, Ferriter accompanied with Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice, Command Sergeant Major of IMCOM, conducted an award ceremony awarding the Purple Heart to Staff Sergeant Daniel Douglas, Illinois Army National Guard and a Bronze Star with Valor to Staff Sergeant Matthew Bracken, U.S. Army Special Forces Command, on center field. Afterwards, they conducted a re-enlistment ceremony in front of an audience of 62,410 roaring spectators at Soldier Field.
As Ferriter and service-members left the field, exuberant fans reached down in attempts to shake hands with service-members and just gain an opportunity to say 'Thank you.'