The Aberdeen IronBirds presented its annual salute to local service members, military organizations and veterans during Military Appreciation Night festivities at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium June 30.
The pregame festivities centered around Team APG and kicked off with video messages from APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor and CECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew McCoy, as well as deployed Soldiers in the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Maryland Army National Guard.
APG honorees included the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Staff Sgt. Keiden Jones; Soldier of the Year Spc. Tanrak Ploykao; and the Family of the Year, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Terrell Murdock, his spouse Su-Ann Murdock, daughter Savanna, and son Tyler.
Team APG members were featured in the pregame festivities. They included Garrison Commander Col. Robert Phillips III and Gary Blohm, the director of the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, who threw out ceremonial first pitches.
Spc. Jessica French, with the Garrison Headquarters and Headquarters Company, sang the national an
them and the APG color guard — comprised of HHC Garrison 1st Sgt. Richard Bernard and Sgts. 1st Class Gary Killiebrew, Joseph Conway, and Rosalba Rodriguez — posted the colors in center field where APG Soldiers and volunteers unfurled a giant American Flag.
An official induction into the U.S. military followed as APG Garrison Commander Phillips administered the Oath of Enlistment to Airman 1st Class David Hess and Staff Sgt. Jaki Johnson, with the 175th Wing Maryland Air National Guard.
Hess, from Forest Hill, Maryland, said he joined the military to “make a difference.”
“It feels really good to give back,” he said.
Several APG organizations, including the APG Army Wellness Center, Army Substance Abuse Program and the 203d Military Intelligence Battalion (Technical Intelligence), hosted displays in the stadium promenade prior to and during the game.
Visitors also got a glimpse of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, also known as an MRAP, from ATEC’s Aberdeen Test Center and the helmet car supplied by the HHC Garrison, that were on display in front of the stadium.
APG Family of the Year patriarch Terrell Murdock said he and his family were honored to represent APG during the pregame ceremony and he thanked the Aberdeen IronBirds for supporting the military.
“An event like this makes the community better; we are all coming together,” added Su-Ann Murdock.
Special guests of the event included Vietnam veterans, many of whom were profiled in the ongoing “Memories of ‘Nam’” series in the APG News, as well as Maryland Gold Star family members. Phillips and APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia Jr. visited and chatted with the guests during the game.
“[Getting recognition] it makes you feel proud of the fact that, hey you know, somebody knows and they haven’t forgotten us,” said Vietnam veteran Ed Bogdan.
Gold Star mother Tracy Miller of Towson said she often attends events that support the military community.
“The Gold Star moms do what we can, because our kids didn’t come back,” she said. “We try to do whatever we can for the people who are serving.”
Phillips said it was a “tremendous honor” to represent APG leadership and the installation.
“We really appreciate the partnership we have with the IronBirds and all the community partners that came out tonight to really support APG,” he said.
After the Aberdeen IronBirds’ 3-0 victory over the Brooklyn Cyclones, the event concluded with a fireworks show set to patriotic music.