The eyes of the world will turn to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night as the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles take the field for a re-match of Super Bowl LVII, but despite carrying the moniker of perhaps the matchup of the year, this game is about much more than just the final score.
This particular contest – which will serve as the Chiefs' annual "Salute to Service" game – is about the real heroes in our community.
The Chiefs have a storied history of supporting the military throughout the years, illustrated through numerous base visits, scholarships for Gold Star families, regular community outreach events, Military Appreciation Day at training camp and Day 3 draft selection announcements from military bases in recent years.
It's a commitment that's woven into the fabric of the franchise, and not just in the metaphorical sense. In fact, the Chiefs will once again wear an honorary patch during pre-game warmups on Monday night that celebrates our Armed Forces.
"This season's annual Salute to Service commemorative patch recognizes the 50th anniversary of the of the U.S. withdrawal from the Vietnam War," said Senior Director of Community Outreach Chuck Castellano. "The eighth iteration of our patch program, it carries through the momentum created by last year's, which highlighted Operation Linebacker I & II. In doing so, the Chiefs' intention is to continue to celebrate the incredible sacrifice experienced by so many of those that served in this conflict while also giving them all a long overdue recognition for their efforts."
The patch includes a large, numerical "50" at its center over a background of "leaf" camouflage print, which was worn by service members in combat during the final years of the Vietnam War. At the top of the patch is a pattern of green, yellow and red. This collection of colors signifies the Vietnam War Service Ribbon, which was awarded to those who served in Vietnam during the conflict.
Additionally, the words, "Courage, Honor, Patriotism and Sacrifice" line the bottom of the patch in recognition of the characteristics of the service members involved in the Vietnam War.
This will mark the eighth-consecutive year that the Chiefs will don commemorative patches prior to the annual "Salute to Service" game, continuing a tradition that has honored various aspects of our nation's military and its history.
It began with the intent of recognizing Gold Star families in 2016, as the Chiefs wore custom sweatshirts that each bore the name of a different veteran who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country prior to Kansas City's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The hoodies were then gifted back to the loved ones of those veterans, culminating in an impactful gesture of remembrance that spawned a series of similar endeavors in the years since.
The Chiefs honored the many troops who call our community home the following season during "Salute to Service" month, sporting sweatshirts during warmups that featured a handful of different patches recognizing local military units. Representatives from nearby Fort Riley, alongside members of the Kansas and Missouri National Guard, were then surprised with the game-worn hoodies during a stadium tour soon afterward.
That tradition has persisted in the five years since, too, as the Chiefs have worn patches honoring the armistice of World War I (2018), the commissioning of the USS Kansas City (2019), the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II (2020), those who served in the Global War on Terrorism (2021) and Operation Linebacker I & II (2022).
It has grown into a meaningful display of solidarity during that time, providing the Chiefs with an opportunity to celebrate the individuals who make our freedom a reality. The patch will only be a small part of what promises to be a special night on Monday, too.
Prior to the game, a Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" helicopter will be on display – and staffed by Vietnam Veterans – in front of the CommunityAmerica Gate. Elsewhere, a special rendering of the patch will be placed in front of the GEHA Gate by renowned area artist Kara Vaughn, who specializes in sidewalk chalk displays.
Additionally, as halftime begins on Monday night, the Chiefs will recognize various members of the organization who have a direct connection to individuals who served in the Vietnam War. As part of those festivities, the Chiefs will welcome local Medal of Honor recipient Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald Ballard to the field and invite all those who served in Vietnam to stand and be recognized for their efforts.
It's all just another example of the Chiefs' unwavering commitment to our nation's Armed Forces. Monday's matchup may be the game of the year, but without the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the game wouldn't even be taking place. This year's patches – along with the night's other festivities – will ensure that we all remember that.