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Honoring those who serve: Military Appreciation Day Saturday at Milne Field
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Honoring those who serve: Military Appreciation Day Saturday at Milne Field

Continuing its commitment as one of the most military-friendly schools in America, Jacksonville University hosts its annual Military Appreciation Football Game at noon Saturday, Oct. 15, at Milne Field vs. defending Pioneer Football League champion Dayton.

The game is dedicated to the soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and their families of the JU military community, and is free to all active-duty and retired service members with a valid military ID.

Some of the patches worn Saturday by JU football team members.

Some of the patches to be worn by JU football team members.

Each JU player will wear the military unit patches of JU student veterans, faculty veterans and staff veterans; Mayport Naval Station ships; Naval Air Station Jacksonville units; and Florida National Guard major commands. Information on the unit patches will be included in the game program. JU alumni may submit patches for use in future Military Appreciation games.

More than 300 high school students from area Junior ROTC units from throughout the region will tour campus, eat in the Riverview Cafe and then attend the game and march onto the field for the playing of the National Anthem, and local senior military leaders are expected to be on hand as well.

The Faculty and Staff Veteran of the Year for 2016 will be honored at halftime, with the family escorted by JU President Tim Cost and Senior Vice President for University Relations and Development, Brigadier General (retired) Mike Fleming. One individual will also receive the PepsiCo Military Spotlight during pregame ceremonies, and will be presented with four tickets to a Jacksonville Jaguars game.

JU Military Appreciation Patches5 RESIZEThe opening ceremony of the game will include a pass-in-review, a longstanding military tradition that began as a way for a newly assigned commander to inspect his troops.

The Reviewing Officials for the pass-in-review are Capt. Neil Karnes, Commanding Officer of JU’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps; and Retired Commander R. Hibbard, Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Area 12 Manager.

The Commander of Troops for the ceremony is Cadet Commander Julia Bruemmer, the 2016 Navy League’s Legion of Valor Recipient, who represents Lee High School Navy JROTC.

JROTC units taking part Saturday include Bishop Kenny High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Lieutenant Commander Kyle Leonard; Camden County High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Commander Jennifer Padgett; Clay High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Lieutenant Junior Grade Smith; Ed White High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Commander Gavin Platt; First Coast High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Commander Matthew Wix; Fleming Island High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Lieutenant Commander Daniel Piner; Lee High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Commander Kelvin Pryor; Mandarin High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Lieutenant Thomas Dembinski; Middleburg High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Lieutenant Christopher Hovey; Orange Park High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Petty Officer First Class Steffany Walker; Ridgeview High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Ensign Dylan Ostrander; and Terry Parker High School Navy JROTC, led by Cadet Commander Dashaun Miller.

“Our intent for the event is to provide exposure for all of the NJROTC students to the University environment, give them an idea of what day-to-day life is like for a Midshipman at an NROTC unit at a college or university, and to give thanks and show appreciation to the active-duty military and veterans in the region by honoring them with a pass-in-review ceremony,” said Lt. Richard Hall, Naval Science Instructor with the JU NROTC. “It also provides an opportunity for a college campus visit that some students may not otherwise be planning to pursue, and helps them understand what opportunities lie ahead for them after high school, whether they plan to join the Navy or not.”

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JU is one of America’s most military-friendly schools, with student veterans making up more than 10 percent of its 4,000-plus enrollment. Its Defenders’ Den provides a centrally located study and lounge center for student veterans, and its Student Veterans of America chapter has been named a “National Chapter of the Month” by the SVA. JU provides a tutoring center, counseling center and scholarships to its veterans, and it is the first higher education institution in the U.S. to partner with the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation to award scholarships to family members of deceased veterans. In addition, more than $5 million in VA benefits are paid annually to JU student veterans, and JU is a 100% Yellow Ribbon Match School. Its more than 40-year-old Naval NROTC Unit was the first chartered in Florida and has commissioned more than 1,500 Navy Ensigns and Marine Corps Second Lieutenants.

For more information on Saturday’s game, click here.