Members of the Massachusetts National Guard were honored for their military service and support to the community during Military Appreciation Night, Nov., 15, 2011, during a Boston Bruins game at the TD Garden.
Military Appreciation Night is an annual event that allows season ticket holders to donate their tickets to service men and women for their selfless service to the United States military.
The Boston Bruins also donate with players Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Dennis Seidenberg each purchasing $5,000 worth of tickets to the Bruins game, which they gave to local military members and their families.
"November is military appreciation month with the Boston Bruins in which we honor Army National Guard Soldiers in the Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire Army National Guard leading the way as the presenting partner. The November 15th is the bigger night, where people with season tickets and players donate them back to the Boston Bruins and then the Bruins give them to the USO. Any Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine are able to go to the USO, reserve themselves tickets and attend the event,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie Gaitan, Marketing Non-Commissioned Officer, Recruiting and Retention, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
The Massachusetts National Guard is no exception. During the course of the evening Guardsmen were honored for their accomplishments.
The National Anthem was sung by the 215th Army Band, Massachusetts Army National Guard and supported by the 54th Honor Guard, Massachusetts Army National Guard who presented the colors during the opening ceremony.
After the second period, honor graduates from the Recruit Sustainment Program were allowed to stand on the Boston Bruins bench where they were recognized in front of the fans for their achievements. The Soldiers were from the Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire Army National Guard.
"A huge part of the night is us partnering with the New Hampshire and Maine National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalions. The program we developed highlighted Soldiers that just graduated from Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training as honor graduates and we honored them by having them on the players bench during the game to be recognized by everyone in the Garden that night for their achievements as the honor graduates,” said Gaitan.
"There were three honor graduate Soldiers from the Massachusetts Guard, nine total, three from each state on the bench. In addition, other honor graduates from Massachusetts were recognized as a shout out during the evening,” said Patricia DiReda, Marketing and Advertising Program Coordinator, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
“You talk to some of these Soldiers when they come off the ice and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Gaitan.
"I feel honored,” said Pvt. Colin Bourne, 125th Quartermaster Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, one of the honor graduates. Bourne graduated second overall in his class with an average of over 97.
Family is a large part of his commitment to the Guard. His father is former military and his brother is serving in Afghanistan with the 182nd Infantry Regiment, noted Bourne.
Furthermore, Soldiers from the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade were able to watch the game and talk to Cam Neely during the game.
"One of the things we felt was important was that we were communicating with Soldiers in Afghanistan,” said Gaitan. “We were talking to Soldiers from the 26th Brigade, they were getting Skyped (Voice over Internet) into the game and got to watch the game.”
“Every home game in November has a shout out recognizing Soldiers from the Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire Army National Guard,” said DiReda.
“The 15th was the culmination of Military Appreciation Month,” said Gaitan.
Also, the Recruiting and Retention Command set up a table on the concourse to hand out information to spectators about the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
"The National Guard had a Recruiting and Retention Table present where we gave out information about the Massachusetts Army National Guard, we had LED and in game advertising.” said Gaitan.
"This is the second year the Massachusetts Army National Guard has done this program with the Boston Bruins and it is a good recruiting and retention tool,” said Gaitan.
“We’re basically trying to partner with every professional sports team in the New England area to try to reach the market they have and we’re trying to tap into their huge fan base,” said Gaitan.
“Passionate fans, and you have to be passionate and dedicated to fight for our country,” said DiReda.
"It’s great public relations, it’s great for giving back to the community, it’s great for the Soldiers and overall they’re a great organization to be partnered with,” said Gaitan.
"Big Thanks to the Bruins, they are a great organization to work with,” said Gaitan.