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Gridiron Chronicles #4: Salute to Service

“I love it when a plan comes together.” – John “Hannibal” Smith

As you might expect, he Salute to Service game on 11.16, above all others for me was the most important to implement this season. Being an active duty officer on assignment to the Chiefs, I really wanted to be able to show off all the great stories, and all the great events the military can offer. I started planning all the events associated with the Seahawks game back in June and it definitely shifted around a little, with some pieces, such as the flyover, not coming to fruition until literally the week before the game.

Speaking of which, the flyover at the Chiefs vs. Seahawks game was the first over Arrowhead in just over two years. This is due to sequestration that made almost all flyovers and a lot of appearances of other entities, such as the Golden Knights unauthorized and unfunded. Despite this I have been trying to get a flyover for every game so far this year, and have been turned down for all except this one. Because the Seahawks game was celebrating Veterans Day and Salute to Service we were granted an exception to policy from the Department of Defense and were allowed to have one if a unit would do it. Luckily for the Chiefs we have an outstanding relationship with the units at Whiteman AFB, both the 509th, which houses the B2 Stealth Bombers, and the 442nd which flies the A-10 Warthogs into combat. The 442nd just got back in October from a seven month deployment to Afghanistan where they supported Soldiers on the ground with close air support. The Chiefs were absolutely honored to have those brave men and women perform the flyover for us.

If you were at Arrowhead on that cold day you know the flyover wasn't the only thing happening during the Anthem. We also had the giant American flag spread out across the field. The flag was held by over 100 service members representing each branch of service. The Coast Guard, the Navy, the Air Force, Marines, and the Army were all there – and each and every individual was on site at 8:30 in the morning working for hoursin 18 degree weather putting that flag together to assure the moment was impactful. It was a significant effort by those men and women and as you can see above it turned out near perfect.

On top of putting together the big flag and helping coordinate the traffic of service members that morning, I also had the privilege of leading the team out of the E-Tunnel while holding the American flag. It was a quick run to the 50 yard line, and all the while I was trying desperately to stay upright. My dress shoes were hardly made for running on an icy field surface. It was truly an amazing experience to wave Old Glory out in front of the 70,000 fans in attendance.


This game's the Drum Ceremony and Coin Toss were done by the Army's Brigadier General Eric Wesley and Deputy Command Sergeant Major Maurice Jackson out of Fort Riley Kansas and the 1st Infantry Division. General Wesley is the acting commanding general at Ft. Riley after the actual Commanding General, Major General Funk and the majority of the headquarters was deployed to Iraq to help with command and control in the region.

Fort Riley was also instrumental in helping to put together the joint color guard for the game. The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard helped coordinate the services, some of which were over four hours' drive away. This team got them together, ensured their uniforms looked great and got them all rehearsed for the moment. Though the scene was small it was executed flawlessly and my hats off to those stalwart men and women.


The Anthem itself was sung by the Air Forces premier choir the "Singing Sergeants", and the halftime show was performed by our friends from the USMC Band New Orleans.

Earlier on that frigid morning we also held two enlistment ceremonies for 85 service members as the cold weather tarp was being taken off the field. Wentworth Military Academy had 40 cadets sworn in office, and KC MEPS had 45 service members sworn in by Brigadier General Willard Burleson. That was a cold adventure but those young men and women got an experience of a lifetime and they truly appreciated it.

The week prior was probably the busiest I've been at the Chiefs, I had to coordinate over 285 service members, their tickets, parking, contacts, arrival and rehearsal times. Plus I had several general officers that the Chiefs invited into the Founder's Suite with Clark Hunt and his family. It was a lot of work but ultimately everything went off without a hitch.

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