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.