A U.S. Air Force Captain surprised his mother at the Bucs' game against the Jaguars.
During a break in the second quarter of Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buccaneers took a moment to honor a distinguished group of military members and their families. Today, that included a very special surprise for one honoree: Reina Campbell.
Campbell, mother of U.S. Air Force Captain Joshua Gunderson, was in attendance as a special guest in the Buccaneers "Salute to Service Suite." While her son has served his country for more than a decade, she has faced a very different fight – first, being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2006, and now once again battling the deadly disease, this time Stage IV breast cancer with metastases to her stomach.
Following the airing of a brief video message from Gunderson on Raymond James Stadium's Bucvision screens, he surprised Campbell by walking up the Pirate Ship's stairwell and giving her a hug. The special military surprise was coordinated through the support of Florida Cancer Specialists, who made it possible for Gunderson to return home from Alaska, where he is currently stationed. It was the first time in 11 months that he had been home, and the first time they had seen each other since she visited him earlier this year.
The emotional moment was a special twist to an in-game segment that takes place at every Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium, when fans direct their attention to the Pirate Ship above the north end zone and join players and coaches in thanking local servicemen and servicewomen for their sacrifices. The military group enjoys an exclusive gameday experience in the "Salute to Service Suite," which includes a special moment of recognition by the public address announcer and the Bucvision video screens while standing aboard the Pirate Ship.
In acknowledgment of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sunday's group of military personnel and military family members had all been affected by breast cancer – either by facing the disease themselves, or supporting a loved one who is battling breast cancer.
A member of the Bloomingdale High School class of 2004, Gunderson pursued a career in the military at age 17 and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2008. He has never been stationed in Tampa, having spent more than a decade away from his family. His training and service have included stops in Texas, Oregon, and a three-year assignment in Japan. He is currently stationed in Anchorage, AK., where he flies an F-22 fighter jet under the call sign 'Cabo.'