Minneapolis, MN (November 8, 2015) – TheMinnesota Vikingswill honor military members during today's game against the St. Louis Rams as part of theNational Football League's "Salute to Service" campaign**, which has taken place since 2011.
The following are some of the events that will take place in conjunction with today's game to help elevate military appreciation (none of these activities include compensation to the Vikings):
● Gjallarhorn – Army Master Sergeant Eric Marts served with the 34th infantry division in Fallujah, Iraq. In 2006 the Bradley fighting vehicle he was driving sustained damage from two improvised explosive devices causing traumatic brain injury and claimed his vision. Medically discharged from the army, MSgt. Marts returned to his family in Moorhead, Minnesota. With the help of Homes For Our Troops Marts and his family will soon have a new place to call home.
● Color Guard – A Joint Forces Color Guard that represents all branches of military service - the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard will be joined by a Civil War Color Guard of the 1st Minnesota Regiment Re-enactors. The 1st Minnesota Regiment draws its lineage from the Battles of the First Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg.
● Field Flag– Vikings Season Ticket Members who are veterans or active service members will hold an American flag on the field during the national anthem.
● National Anthem – Navy Band Great Lakes will perform today's national anthem. Navy Band Great Lakes supports outreach in an 11-state area, stretching from Michigan to Missouri, North Dakota to Kansas, and every Midwestern state in between. * *
● Honorary Captain – Sergeant Aaron Burdash from the Minnesota National Guard's 204th Area Medical Support Company recently returned from his deployment this past year in Sinai, Egypt, as part of the Multinational Force and Observers. Sgt. Burdash was honored for an emergency tracheotomy that he performed on a soldier, saving his life. Burdash was named the 2015 USO National Guardsman of the Year.
● Game Ball Presentation – Delivering today's game ball will be Sergeant First Class Army National Guard Veteran Matt Ross. Doctors told Ross he would never walk again, however Ross was not about to give up. 10 weeks out of surgery Matt walked 14 feet with the help of the organization Soldier Strong and is now back to his family, his farm and the life he loves.
● Soldier Salute – The Vikings will honor WWII veteran Wes McCoy. McCoy was deployed to the Pacific as a part of a Marine Assault Platoon where he took part in the invasion of Okinawa. In the past 15 years, Mr. McCoy has given back to younger generations by sharing his experiences with countless school and community audiences.
● Equipment – Coaches, players and officials will wear camouflage-branded game apparel to raise awareness for the Salute to Service campaign. Game-used items, along with game balls and a custom game coin, will be auctioned off at NFL Auction with 100% of net proceeds donated to the league's core military non-profit partners.
● Salute to Service Halftime – The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is a rifle platoon of the United States Marine Corps which performs unique silent precision exhibition drills. The purpose of the platoon is to exemplify the discipline and professionalism of the Marine Corps. Additionally, the Vikings and the United States Marine Corps will honor North High School athlete, Tyler Johnsonwho is the lone Minnesota high schooler selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All American Bowl this coming January. The Semper Fidelis Football Program is a year-round platform for the Marine Corps to demonstrate its commitment to reinforcing corps values of honor, courage and commitment, and how they relate to success on and off the field.
● Heart of a Viking – Gavin Bassett, a senior linebacker from Farmington will be honored, during today's Heart of a Viking moment. Bassett committed to play football and serve his country by attending West Point next year. He will join a long line of family members that have proudly served their country.