DENVER – The stadium erupted with cheers as the Colorado Avalanche took the ice for the pregame warm-up Sunday donning special camouflage jerseys as a show of support for the men and women who serve the nation in uniform.
Service members and their families from throughout the Front Range were honored during the course of the Colorado Avalanche’s second annual Military Appreciation Night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
After warm-ups concluded, the crowd grew quiet as the red carpet was rolled onto the ice. Cheers erupted as each branch of the military was announced, as five members representing the each service – to include five Fort Carson soldiers representing the Army – took their positions at center ice. U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson Commander Col. David Grosso was then introduced as he walked to the center of the ice face-off circle to officiate the ceremonial puck drop between the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues team captains.
The pregame festivities concluded with a joint service color guard presenting the colors as the on-ice participants, decked out in their respective service uniforms, sharply saluted at the beginning of the national anthem and two Air Force paratroopers rappelled from the rafters unfurling a giant American flag.
Throughout the game, the Jumbotron featured many “shout-out” videos from deployed service members to their Families in attendance – eight of them from Fort Carson Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, currently serving at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
“I felt that it was really awesome and heartwarming that they played those videos for us during the game,” said Summer Campbell, spouse of Spc. Chris Campbell, infantryman, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “It makes me proud to know that my husband, and my kids’ father is serving. It is also really emotional because of the pain of missing somebody so much.
“It is unbelievable to go through what we, (military) wives go through on a daily basis,” said Summer Campbell. “A lot of people take for granted the sacrifices that spouses and Soldiers make. (The Soldiers) miss the children growing up, anniversaries, and birthdays, but in the long run it is worth it because as military families we’re built strong and can go through almost anything.”
Spc. William Ocasio, horizontal construction engineer, Company A, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., said he was honored to represent the Army during the pregame show.
“I feel honored and appreciated to be chosen to be able to represent the Army . . . and to be in this environment surrounded by everyone that is grateful for what we do,” Ocasio said.
“When you’re out there in the field and you’re eating meals-ready-to-eat and covered in dirt, you forget about this side of being a soldier,” Ocasio said. “It is nice to put on the uniform and get all dressed up; get reminded that you are more than just a warrior, that you are that member of society that the public looks up to. It is a really good reminder and it feels good to be here.”
The Avalanche defeated the Blues 5-3. The camouflage warm-up jerseys are being auctioned off April 28, with proceeds benefitting children and Families in need.