The Players Championship shows appreciation for the military

Written by  //  May 10, 2012  //  Feature Stories, News

The Florida Army National Guard's 13th Army Band performs during military appreciation day at the The Players Club, May 9, 2012. Photo by Debra Cox

Story by Sgt. Michael Baltz

PONTE VEDRA, Fla., (May 9, 2012) – There are millions of U.S. military service members and veterans worldwide, and The Players Championship took May 9, 2012, to thank Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airman and Coast Guardsmen for their service at Sawgrass during their annual Military Appreciation Day.

Throughout the event, Wounded Warriors were honored with ceremonies, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown spoke of his appreciation and gratitude for the military and Gary Player, who the tournament is named after, personally thanked military personnel for all the sacrifices that they make.

The Florida Air National Guard also provided a flyover during the ceremony with four F-15 Eagles.

This year in particular, the National Guard was the specific focus of the military appreciation ceremony, with a speech by the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig R. McKinley. The Florida National Guard also provided static vehicle displays and a concert by the 13th Army Band during the day’s events.

A child greets members of the Florida National Guard's 256th Area Medical Support Company outside the Patriots Outpost at The Players Club, during TPC's Military Appreciation Day at Sawgrass, May 9, 2012. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens

“The hospitability of the staff and community makes me feel appreciated,” said Spc. Kimberly Egipciaco, a combat medic with Florida National Guard’s 256 Area Support Medical Company. “Everyone has been coming up to me to shake my hand and saying ‘thank you.’ These people look up to me. It is crazy, but it makes me feel good. It makes me want to be a better Solider.”

Eqipciaco, along with hundreds of other service members and veterans, spent time at the Patriots Outpost between the 16th and 18th holes. The Patriots Outpost provides free lunches, snacks, soft drinks and water.

“It is our small way of saying thank you for all they do for us,“ said Christopher J. Reimer, communications manager for the PGA Tour. “All of the things the military men, women and their families sacrifice so I can work for the PGA Tour and so our players can play golf for a living definitely shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

(From left to right) Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, The Adjutant General of Florida, Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner, Wounded Warrior and retired Rhode Island National Guardsman Michael McCombs and Tour Pro Nick Watney pose for a photo after Finchem presented McCombs, a golf enthusiast, with a membership to the TPC in Boston. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens

Country music singer Luke Bryan performed a concert in honor of the military to conclude the Military Appreciation Day.

“I just walk around and play guitar, [the military] does the real work,” Bryan said. He took the time to publicly acknowledge his gratitude for all service members, “Thanks for all you do, we are praying for you and on behalf of me, the PGA Tour and the country community, we love you and think of you all the time and thanks for allowing us to be free.”

Military appreciation at The Players Championship will continue through Sunday with free admission and parking, along with the benefits of the Patriots Outpost hospitality tent.

For more information on how the PGA Tour supports the military, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.com.

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