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Vanderbilt recognizes 101st Airborne Division Soldiers in Veterans Day Salute to Service

 

Written by Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
40th Public Affairs Detachment

Fort Campbell KY - 101st Airborne DivisionNashville, TN – Vanderbilt University opened their stadium, November 11th, 2017 to give active duty soldiers and their families the opportunity to experience college football as part of the school’s Veterans Day Salute to Service.

Among them were nearly 50 soldiers from 101st Airborne Division Artillery who were invited to carry out and unfurl a replica of the U.S. Flag during the pre-game ceremony honoring the nation. The large replica flag was the shape of the continental United States of America.

The Commodore Marching Band fanned out across the field after the National Anthem, and the soldiers lined up at the end of the stadium to form a tunnel and cheer the Vanderbilt football players as they ran onto the field.

Lt. Col. Hugh Sollom, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Simmons, commander and command sergeant major, respectively, of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, take in the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, at VU, Nov. 11. Vanderbilt opened their stadium for active duty soldiers and their family members in recognition of Veterans Day. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Lt. Col. Hugh Sollom, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Simmons, commander and command sergeant major, respectively, of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, take in the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, at VU, Nov. 11. Vanderbilt opened their stadium for active duty soldiers and their family members in recognition of Veterans Day. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

The players were led by the traditional entrance of the ceremonial anchor, carried by honorary guests, Lt. Col. Hugh Sollom and Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Simmons, commander and command sergeant major, respectively, of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery.

The opportunity was the result of a partnership between DIVARTY and Vanderbilt University; moreover, between Vanderbilt football and 2-32nd FAR, DIVARTY.

“We’ve been working with the football team for a couple months now doing leader development sessions, meeting with the coaches,” said Maj. Jim Nemec, executive officer, 2-32nd FAR. “We appreciate the hospitality and generosity of Vanderbilt working with us and allowing active duty soldiers and their Families to attend this game for free.”

Vanderbilt University football players run through a tunnel of soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, carrying the U.S. flag, a POW/MIA flag, Tennessee state flag, and the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” flag before the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, Nov. 11. The ceremonies were part of Vanderbilt University’s recognition of Veterans Day. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Vanderbilt University football players run through a tunnel of soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, carrying the U.S. flag, a POW/MIA flag, Tennessee state flag, and the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” flag before the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, Nov. 11. The ceremonies were part of Vanderbilt University’s recognition of Veterans Day. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

The 101st Airborne Division is the only air assault division in the U.S. Army and sets the standard for air assault operations throughout the Army. Partnerships such as the one with Vanderbilt University is one bonded by professionalism and commitment to excellence.

“Vanderbilt graduates are leaders of character just like soldiers are, so a lot of the same things that Vanderbilt University espouses, with regard to character development, are the same as our Army values,” Nemec said.

Pfc. Anthony Hugershoff, a medic, from 2-32nd FAR, said he will be completing his enlistment soon and has applied for admission to Vanderbilt University. The partnership between DIVARTY and VU gave Hugershoff, and fellow medics from his unit, the opportunity to participate in an anatomy lab at the VU.

“I’m very grateful to be here for the game,” Hugershoff said. “It is a great opportunity for us to get together and experience the excitement of Vanderbilt football.”

Those in attendance were treated to a high-scoring game and record-setting performances. Kentucky rushed for 232 yards, led by sophomore running back Benny Snell, and ran away with a 44-21 win.

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, hold the ceremonial replica flag before the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, Nov. 11. The replica flag was in the shape of the continental United States of America, and was part of Vanderbilt University’s Veterans Day Salute to Service. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, hold the ceremonial replica flag before the University of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt University football game, Nov. 11. The replica flag was in the shape of the continental United States of America, and was part of Vanderbilt University’s Veterans Day Salute to Service. (Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Despite the loss, Commodore quarterback Kyle Shurmur, junior, passed for 308 yards, completing 30 of 43 passes with 4 interceptions. It was those crucial turnovers that stymied any potential comeback.

“Too many turnovers, to win any ballgame, four turnovers are too many, it can’t happen,” said Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason. “We talked about what this game had to be and it was anything but that.”

During media time-outs, Vanderbilt football honored selected service members on the field. Among them was Spc. Timothy Metcalf, a field artillery firefinder radar operator from 2-32nd FAR. Metcalf took the oath of reenlistment on the field during a media break before halftime, surrounded by a cheering crowd.

“This was really exciting,” Metcalf said. “It was a great feeling to be recognized along with other veterans today.”

As part of their Salute to Service, and to honor the families of fallen service members, Vanderbilt players removed their names from the back of their jerseys and replaced them with the name of a fallen veteran.

“It is extremely humbling to honor our veterans this way,” said defensive captain Oren Burks, senior linebacker. “We are dissatisfied in the loss, but at the same time to be able to honor those Families of fallen Soldiers, that means a lot.”

Capt. Jon Harvey, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, administers the oath of reenlistment to Spc. Timothy Metcalf, a field artillery firefinder radar operator from 2-32nd FAR, during a media break at Vanderbilt University, Nov. 11. (1st Lt. Devan Oliphant, 101st Airborne Division Artillery)

Capt. Jon Harvey, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, administers the oath of reenlistment to Spc. Timothy Metcalf, a field artillery firefinder radar operator from 2-32nd FAR, during a media break at Vanderbilt University, Nov. 11. (1st Lt. Devan Oliphant, 101st Airborne Division Artillery)

Hours before kickoff, Fort Campbell Soldiers and Family members were treated to a catered BBQ tailgate party hosted by 2-32nd FAR. Before walking to the stadium, the Commodore Marching Band, dance squad and cheerleaders stopped by to give an exclusive performance and express their gratitude for the service and sacrifice made by the active duty service members and their Families.

“Thank you to all these Veterans on this day,” said Burks, at the conclusion of the post-game press conference. “Your service does not go unnoticed. Thank you guys.”


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