This Sunday, Nov. 8, three days before Veteran's Day, fans will join together at Raymond James Stadium to honor those who have sacrificed and served our nation in an annual tradition: the Buccaneers' Salute to Service game, presented by USAA. Prior to the team's 4:05 p.m. kickoff versus the New York Giants, Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz will present USO Central Florida with a $25,000 donation to support its programs and services. USO Central Florida serves as the team's primary charitable conduit to the local military community, working closely with the Buccaneers on a wide variety of military appreciation initiatives.
"The Buccaneers value our relationship with USO Central Florida and appreciate the continued opportunities to work together in support of our armed forces," said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. "Tampa Bay is home to one of the greatest military communities in the country, and we are proud to honor those who have worked hard and sacrificed to protect our freedom."
Since 2013, the Bucs Care Foundation has donated a total of $75,000 to USO Central Florida, one of more than 160 USO centers worldwide that deliver high-quality programs and services to men and women in uniform. The Buccaneers sponsor the USO Central Florida Welcome Center at Tampa International Airport through "Welcome Home" greetings, team merchandise and artwork, and engaging outreach efforts to help provide a home away from home for thousands of military members and their families who travel through the Tampa area. In addition, the Buccaneers collaborate with USO Central Florida on the team's military "Hero of the Game" and "Salute to Service Suite" honorees, Military Appreciation Day at training camp, the General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards, and the distribution of complimentary tickets to Tampa Bay military members and their families.
On Sunday morning, the Buccaneers and USO Central Florida will once again host the USO Central Florida Military Appreciation Tailgate. The free pre-game tailgate experience in Parking Lot 5, between Gates C and D outside Raymond James Stadium, will host more than 500 pre-registered military members and their families as they gear up for kickoff. Note: All pre-registered guests who have received USO Central Florida Tailgate tickets must still present the tailgate ticket as well as their military ID (U.S. Department of Defense Card, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Card, or DD-214) to attend.
SPECIAL HERO OF THE GAME: COLONEL BUZZ ALDRIN
Following the opening coin toss, the Buccaneers will continue a gameday tradition by honoring the team's military "Hero of the Game." At every Buccaneers home game, a military service member is stationed on the Pirate Ship in Buccaneer Cove to ready the team for kickoff. On Sunday, the Buccaneers will honor Colonel Buzz Aldrin, an American icon who forever changed history as the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 11 and, along with Neil Armstrong, became the first men to ever walk on the moon.
On July 20, 1969, in front of a then world-record television audience of 600 million people, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk. For his bravery and commitment to service, Aldrin was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American peacetime award, among many other accolades. Today, Aldrin supports the VetSalute initiative, encouraging military veterans to salute the flag during the National Anthem.
ADDITIONAL SALUTE TO SERVICE ACTIVITIES:
Throughout the afternoon, the Buccaneers will host a variety of military appreciation events, including:
Pre-game Ceremonies, presented by USAA: Jump Team, Player Introductions, Color Guard, and Fly Over: At the conclusion of team warm-ups, the US Special Operations Command Para-Commandos will parachute out of planes flying high above Raymond James Stadium and land on the field. When the Buccaneers are introduced, Lance Corporal Devin Kyle, a marine who was injured in Afghanistan in 2013 and was presented the Purple Heart, will lead the team out of the tunnel. The Buccaneers will be welcomed to the field by more than 200 service members representing all branches of the military. US Special Operations Command will present the colors, and the national anthem will be performed by the USO Show Troupe. A pre-game flyover will be carried out by the United States Coast Guard.
Honorary Guest of the Game (Coin Toss): United States General Joseph L. Votel – Commander, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will serve as the Buccaneers' honorary Guest of the Game. General Votel will join the Buccaneers team captains at midfield for the coin toss. USAA has supplied a special Military Appreciation Coin that will be used for the toss.
Salute to Service Moment, presented by USAA: During a break in play, the public address announcer will ask all military members in attendance to stand and be honored for the game's Salute to Service Moment, presented by USAA.
Buccaneers Salute to Service Suite: At every Buccaneers home game, the team honors a distinguished group of military members in the Salute to Service Suite. Fans are encouraged to join players and coaches during a break in play in the second quarter to thank local servicemen and servicewomen for their sacrifices, as they are recognized aboard the Pirate Ship in Raymond James Stadium. On Sunday, the Buccaneers will recognize this year's General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Award recipients:
• Lieutenant Aaron Cook (Navy) & family
• First Sergeant Patrick Marasco (Florida National Guard) & family
• Petty Officer Third Class Brice Hastings (Coast Guard) & family
• Major Mark Lee (Army) & family (represented by his wife, Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Coleman-Lee)
• Lieutenant Colonel David Carlson (Air Force) & family
• Major Matthew Bain (Marines) & family (unable to attend due to relocation)
Front Row Fans: Over 200 military and their families will enjoy the game from exclusive end zone seats at Raymond James Stadium, compliments of Buccaneers players and coaches, as part of the Front Row Fans program.
Halftime: During the game's halftime intermission, the Buccaneers will host a Military Enlistment Ceremony for 200 inductees of all service branches, conducted by General Lloyd Austin – Commander, USCENTCOM. The team will also recognize two local Purple Heart recipients: Sergeant Carl Moore III (Army) and Chief Warrant Officer Romy Camargo (Army).
2015 USAA Salute to Service Award Nominee – Vincent Jackson: On Sunday, the Buccaneers will air a special tribute video on the Raymond James Stadium Bucvision boards celebrating wide receiver Vincent Jackson as the team's 2015 USAA Salute to Service Award Nominee. A 2014 finalist, this is the third consecutive year that the Buccaneers have nominated Jackson for the award, which is voted on by a blue ribbon panel comprised of former NFL players and coaches who served in the military, NFL and USAA executives. The 2015 Salute to Service Award winner will have a $25,000 donation made in his/her name to the Military Aid Societies of each branch of service by USAA. The award's two finalists will be announced during the postseason and the 2015 award recipient will be announced the week of Super Bowl 50. Jackson, who was raised in a military family, has dedicated his charitable efforts to supporting Tampa Bay's military community through team events and personal initiatives, including the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation. Visit Buccaneers.com to learn more on Jackson's honor.
For more information on the Buccaneers' Salute to Service initiatives, visit www.buccaneers.com/salute.