MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings held their annual Salute-to-Service game on Sunday, taking special moments to pause and recognize veterans and members of the military and their families with multiple in-game elements.
National Anthem: Navy veteran Generald Wilson performed the National Anthem as a Joint Services Honor Guard presented the colors and Vikings Season Ticket Members who are veterans held a field-size American flag. Wilson's stirring rendition was punctuated with a flyover by a C-130 Hercules from the 96th Airlift Squadron, which is known as the "Flying Vikings."
Gjallarhorn: Minnesota National Guard Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, who began a seven-year term as the 31st Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard earlier this year, sounded the Gjallarhorn.
Honorary Captain: Vikings Legend Jared Allen, who founded Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, served as an honorary captain for the coin toss.
U.S. Bank Hometown Hero:During each home game, U.S. Bank and the Minnesota Vikings recognize one individual who has helped make our community a better place. It is the opportunity to honor a Minnesotan who has gone to extraordinary measures.
Sunday's Hometown Hero was George Benedict, a former Winona State football and baseball star who volunteered for Vietnam in 1966. Benedict was wounded during a reconnaissance mission but returned for another tour. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Halftime:A special presentation honoring veterans featured a performance by country music star and former United States Marine Jamey Johnson.
Five veterans who were treated to an unforgettable trip to Washington, D.C., for the Hy-Vee Veterans Voyage Nov. 10-12 were recognized. They walked on the field during an incredible performance of Johnson's "In Color," which won Song of the Year from the Academy of Country Music in 2009. They also were surprised on the field with news they will receive free groceries for a year from Hy-Vee. Read about their experience here.
POW recognition: Navy pilot Arvin Chauncey, who spent 2,105 days in captivity as a prisoner of war, received a robust ovation from fans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Chauncey's plane was shot down in Northern Vietnam during his 57th combat mission on May 31, 1967.
Chauncey was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He has received two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart, a Prisoner of War Medal, a Legion of Merit and a Gold Star.
Super surprise: Minnesota Air National Guard Maj. Jodi Grayson delivered a special video message to her 11-year-old son, Tallon Kiminski.
Grayson is currently deployed but was able to inform Tallon that they will be attending Super Bowl LII thanks to tickets from the Vikings.
The team awarded the tickets as part of its Heart of a Viking*campaign. Fans are encouraged to nominate someone who is displaying the Heart of a Viking for consideration for a pair of tickets to the big game by using #HeartofaViking or by visiting Vikings.com/HeartOfAViking*.
Flag football: Tallon also was part of a group of 44 youth from military families that participated in flag football games at Winter Park on Saturday.
The youth were from the United Heroes League, a program based in Hastings, Minnesota, that helps keep military kids healthy and active while their parents serve our country. UHL (unitedheroesleague.org) provides free sports equipment, camps, financial grants and game tickets to keep military families connected in all 50 states and ships equipment to deployed service members as well.
The day included a special talk with Vikings receiver Jarius Wright and a tour of the locker room. Kyle Carter (Air Force), C.J. Ham (Army), Ryan Quigley (Navy) and Kyle Sloter (Marines) coached and all-time quarterbacked the teams, and the youth attended Sunday's game.