Between 700 and 1,000 veterans and active-duty military personnel are invited and expected to attend the Saturday, Oct. 27, events on campus.
“It’s going to be an exciting day,” said Marco Born, assistant athletic director in marketing and the ticket office. “It will be a busy day, but exciting. So much planning — eight or nine months — has gone into this by our committee.”
In addition to the morning Veterans Memorial Service, one of the annual highlights will be the naming of the Joe Nunley Award winner. This year, World War II veteran Em T. Ghianni, 90, of Nashville, is the honoree.
Another much-anticipated part of the day comes during halftime when the nearly 460-member Band of Blue pays a special patriotic salute to the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
As their particular branch’s military marching music is played, veterans and active-duty personnel will walk (some in wheelchairs, aided by family or friends) across Horace Jones Field in a moving ceremony.
The day is full of events, including:
•10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Healthcare and Benefits Fair near Floyd Stadium Gate 3, presented by the Veterans Affairs/Tennessee Valley Healthcare System;
• 11 to 11:30 a.m. — Veterans Memorial Service outside the Tom H. Jackson Building;
• 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Pregame picnic at the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame;
• 1 to 1:30 p.m. — Presentation of the Joe Nunley Award at the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame;
• 2:30 p.m. — MTSU vs. North Texas kickoff; and
• 4 p.m. (time approximate) — Halftime salute to U.S. Armed Services.
During the morning memorial service, veteran and Murfreesboro businessman Fayne Haynes will be the featured speaker. After the ceremony, World War II veterans will be honored by the planting of a tree near the memorial site. A bugler will render a salute with the playing of “Taps.”
“We are expecting our largest Salute to Veterans event ever,” Born said, referring to the effort by the athletics department to visit and personally invite veterans and staff at veterans’ facilities in Nashville, Smyrna and Murfreesboro and the role primary sponsors State Farm, Barrett Firearms, Bridgestone, USAA and the National Guard have played in purchasing tickets for the special guests.
For the first time, a silent auction benefiting Toys for Tots will be set up inside the Kennon Hall of Fame. Anyone attending the game or Salute to Armed Services events may participate in the auction, which will end at 1:45 p.m.
Representing the family, Joe Nunley Jr. will participate in the ceremony. Joe Nunley Sr. was a U.S. Army World War II veteran who retired as alumni director at MTSU in 1987 and previously had been a professor in education starting in 1961. He died in 1993.
Also taking place:
• the game coin, to be delivered by a PackBot robot from the MTSU aerospace department’s unmanned aerial system program;
• the coin toss, to be performed jointly by retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Bivens, a two-time combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and Lance Cpl. Eric Frazier, who lost both legs while serving in Iraq and received a Purple Heart and other awards;
• the national anthem will be performed by retired Sgt. Joe Wilson Sr.; and
• The Marine Corps-sponsored Toys for Tots will be collecting new toys at each gate.
Born said Boy and Girl Scouts will be in attendance.
To find parking on campus, use this a printable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTParkingMap12-13.