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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Veterans Day Thank You

Bucs Reggie Barlow, David Gibson, Austin King, Ryan Nece and Chris Simms – all descendants of American war veterans – showed their appreciation Tuesday at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Hospital


S David Gibson, who had a grandfather who fought in WWII, helped serve lunch Tuesday to some local war heroes

Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served the United States and protected our freedoms at home and abroad.

It is also a day for those who have reaped the benefits of those heroes' actions to show how much their sacrifices mean to us. The gesture may be small and personal, such as wearing an American Flag pin, or it may be large and inclusive, such as hosting a Veterans Day parade.

On Tuesday, a group of Tampa Bay Buccaneers including Reggie Barlow, David Gibson, Austin King, Ryan Nece and Chris Simms showed their respect for the nation's veterans by cooking and serving food to the residents at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Hospital.

Each of the players who participated had at least one grandfather who served in World War II.

The Buccaneer group arrived at the hospital shortly before lunchtime and took their places in the buffet line to serve the soldiers. Simms managed the pasta salad and potato chips, before being shifted to the grill later in the afternoon to help with the hamburgers; Barlow manned the baked beans; King dished out the fruit salad; Gibson passed out the brownies; and Nece made sure everyone had utensils and napkins.

"Veterans Day is a chance for us to show our appreciation for the people that have done so many great things for our country," said Simms.

"My grandfather on my mother's side flew airplanes in World War II and he was actually missing in action over in Italy for two months. A lot of people in this country have put in a lot of hard work and you have to repay it somehow, some way."

Many of the veterans on hand were just as pleased to see the visiting Buccaneers.

"It means a lot (to have the Buccaneers out here)," said Navy veteran Charlie Mott just before the players' arrival. "I can tell them congratulations on winning the Super Bowl and not to let this season get them down. Getting to meet the players is going to be a real big thrill."

Mott got his wish and met all of the Buccaneers in attendance. He also received a Buccaneers Super Bowl poster autographed by all of the visiting players.

As the veterans finished lunch, the Bucs distributed posters to the veterans and hospital staff, signed autographs and spent time listening to and trading stories with the military men and women.

"It's very important to be out here," said Nece. "These people are the ones that have protected our country. They've sacrificed themselves for our country and it's a blessing to have people that have the courage to go out and do what they did. To come out and show them some love and sign some autographs, it's definitely worth it for what they've done for us."

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