Military Appreciation was a two day event weekend that took place on April 4 and 5 when the Thunder hosted and beat the Utah Grizzlies. Not only was it an amazing weekend because the Thunder won both games, but it was a moving and heartfelt weekend with the various tributes, honorees, and the troops in attendance.

Over 1,000 tickets were donated between various outlets between fans, sponsors, and the team for servicemen and women to attend the games along with their families. We were so happy to have real American heroes in the stands and loved seeing how they enjoyed the games with their family.

Take for example, SSG. Lawrence McGuire who was in attendance with his family but took a few minutes of his time to chat with Caleb Lamb and Brandon Kisker on Saturday’s broadcast.

Of course Military Appreciation Weekend included the moving tribute wall and a video honoring all the local fallen military personnel, the presentation of a large American Flag during the National Anthem and specialty camo jerseys that were auctioned off after Saturday’s game and presented by veterans and active servicemen. 

Fans on Friday’s game received a very cool “Attack on All Fronts” Throwback WWII propaganda poster featuring Garet Hunt, Matt Bergland, and James Henry! In addition, fans were treated to a great puck dropper, 97-year-old WWII veteran Dr. Leroy Leal.

Dr. Leal was part of the Army Air Corps during WWII and ended up opening one of the first dentist offices in Tracy, California. Thanks for your tremendous service to our country Dr. Leal and thanks to Sam Matthews of the Tracy Press for writing this great piece on the Doctor’s night as the honoree!

As for fans that came on Saturday April 5 received a free Thunder cap featuring the Military Appreciation logo while also being treated to another great honoree, Keith Cornell, who also served in the Army Air Corps during WWII.

Cornell, 93, received a number of awards during his service including the highest award that the Army Air Corps gives out, the Distinguished Flying Cross. Among his numerous medals and military achievements, one that stands as an amazing honor is a personal commendation from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

You can read all about Keith Cornell in a piece by Broadcaster Caleb Lamb, or, you can listen to Caleb’s radio feature on Spreaker! You can also read the Stockton Record piece written by Scott Linesburgh about Cornell! Thanks for your service and bravery Mr. Cornell! Everything you’ve done means so much to our country and a simple thank you just doesn’t seem to suffice.

Another great thing about Military Appreciation Weekend are how the Stockton community and Thunder fans rally around their troops to show complete support!

This year, Operation Support our Military Families spearheaded the campaign for season ticket holders to donate tickets to military members and their families while Operation Troop Outreach collected items to be sent overseas come the 2014 holiday season.

Even the younger fans get caught up in the moment as was noticed all the way up in the Broadcast booth when they noticed Kids Take Over Stockton Arena broadcaster Adam Fritsch catch a puck and give it to a uniformed servicemen seven rows back. The extreme class demonstrated by this 10-year-old was rewarded with his second stint in the broadcast booth as he joined Caleb and Brandon Kisker to talk about what he did and do a little play by play. You can listen to the young man on the radio below or you can read all about it in Brandon’s entry in the Broadcast Blog!

A hearty thank you to everyone who serves and protects our freedom. This spectacular event will most certainly be back and better than ever (which is tough to do after such a great year!) next season!

Event Proceeds will Benefit:

Military Appreciation Weekend is Proudly Presented by:

Military Appreciation Weekend is Proudly Supported by: