FOXBORO, Mass. – The New England Patriot’s recognized a Massachusetts Army National Guardsman as a “True Patriot” during their 31-28 point win over the Indianapolis Colts here Nov. 21, 2010.
Sgt. 1st Class Mark J. Mulry, a Special Forces Weapons Expert assigned to the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program was recommended for the honor by a committee of his fellow Soldiers.
The “True Patriot” Program is a partnership between the New England Patriots and the Army National Guard to recognize the accomplishments of experienced and newly enlisted Guardsmen during home games.
A few of Mulry’s accomplishments and current goals are that he has deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, he is using the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill to earn a bachelor’s degree and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. He is a sniper and completed the Army’s Air Assault and Airborne courses. He also recently rescued two friends after a Jet Ski accident, one from drowning and the other from a life-threatening injury.
Mulry’s commander, Lt. Col. John J. Driscoll, said Mulry was chosen for the honor because, “Sgt. 1st Class Mulry is a proven professional and combat veteran who exemplifies the Army Values. He uses his personal and professional experience to prepare our newly enlisted Soldiers as they begin their military career within the Massachusetts Army National Guard.”
Reflecting on the honor the Patriots and their fans bestowed upon him, Mulry said, “I think that it’s a huge honor to be selected by the Patriots. I never expected nor did I ever think I deserved to be recognized. I love the Army and the country. To me, being in the Army and being with my team was the greatest time of my life. I wish my teammates from 1st Special Forces Group could be here and be recognized alongside me, because without them I wouldn’t be alive today. Also, the men and women still fighting the good fight and trying to make it from one day to the next are my heroes and should all be recognized as well.”
When Mulry’s image was projected from the sideline onto the Jumbotron, Pat’s fans made some noise for him. The gesture of gratitude was not lost on Mulry, who said, “I would like to say thank you to all the people who support Soldiers. I don’t think people understand how much Soldiers appreciate all the support, even little random gestures like saying thank you for your service means so much to us and we truly take it to heart,” said Mulry.
Mulry was grateful for being able to bring some guests to the game, for the box seats, for being able to meet the players, and for being recognized on the field; however, he wanted to thank the Soldiers and service members who came before him. Graciously, Mulry said, “First and foremost I would like to thank the Patriots organization for giving me this opportunity. I would also like to thank all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country, without them we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have today. My uncle John Edward Mulry was killed in action during the battle of Guadalcanal in World War II and I would like to dedicate this day to his sacrifice. He will forever be remembered for his sacrifice. De Oppresso Liber,” said Mulry.
Remembering past and present heroes is important but the Massachusetts Army National Guard is always looking for new Soldiers to serve during national, state and local emergencies. With an eye toward the future Mulry said, “To anyone willing to join the National Guard or military during a time of war has my utmost respect. It will be challenging and has severe potential of being very dangerous no matter their job. To me, any man or women who dedicates their time, knowing the consequences and severity of their decision, is a hero in my eyes. Also, the Army is what you make of it and you can be anything you want.”
In addition to being a “True Patriot” Mulry was also chosen to be an honorary Patriots team captain and stood next to Colt’s quarterback Peyton Manning during the coin toss.
Watching from the stands while Mulry was honored were some of his peers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. The Raytheon Corporation made a generous donation of 100 tickets so the Soldiers could enjoy the game with their friends and families. One of the Soldiers who attended the game was Spc. Robert K. Reinke, a signal information service specialist, with the 26th Yankee Brigade out of Reading, Mass. Reinke is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan early in 2011. He brought his wife Liz to the game and they were treated to a pre-game meal in the Patriots Hall of Fame sponsored by Raytheon.
Expressing his appreciation Reinke said, “To be able to just be in civilian clothes, blend into the crowd and relax was awesome. My wife and I really enjoyed the opportunity afforded by Raytheon and it is days like this that will be memorable when I am gone. And to see the reps from Raytheon there shaking our hands as we walked in really put a personal touch to the day.” Reinke works fulltime for the Massachusetts Army National Guard as member and trainer with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Reinke’s wife Liz said, “It was an amazing day and I was momentarily able to forget about the upcoming deployment and just enjoy watching the game with Rob.”