Servicemembers honored during MLS showdown

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
  • 9th RW Public Affairs
The Stanford University stadium rumbled as more than 50,000 soccer fans cheered in honor of a formation from each branch of the U.S. military who marched on the field during half time of the L.A. Galaxy versus San Jose Earthquakes game June 30.

More than 300 servicemembers participated in the military appreciation night which highlighted the sacrifices troops make every day.

"This is a great way to recognize our servicmembers and essentially let us know the communities we work in appreciate us," said Air National Guard Maj. Christopher Scott, 216th Operations Support Squadron from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. "With the current ops tempo, its often forgotten that the community cares, but the way the crowd went wild for us tonight, it proves that just isn't true."

After each goal during the emotionally charge matchup, players high fived uniformed spectators who were standing on the sidelines.

"It's a memory I'll always have with me," said Chris Wondolowski, who scored the winning goal for the Earthquakes. "With July 4th just around the corner, and what those guys do for us and sacrifice, it's amazing. I truly appreciate what they do. It was pretty special to be able to celebrate with them."

During the opening ceremonies, Air Force T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainers from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., flew over the stadium following the National Anthem. At halftime, servicemembers marching in formations were shadowed by a 120 foot long American flag lifted by huge red, white and blue balloons.

"I was proud to be able to represent the Air Force in such a high publicity function," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Padilla, from 9th Security Forces Squadron. "I am a big soccer fan and it was amazing to be this close to the action."

Although the game ended in a disappointing 4-3 loss for the Galaxy, the team's leadership and players noted the importance of the military appreciation night.

"When you are playing games like this it's a big deal, but when [servicemembers] are here it becomes more important," said David Beckham, midfielder for the L.A. Galaxy. "You see the military guys and everyone that's out there and it gives you goose bumps. It's a special feeling."