Three days before Memorial Day I joined my sister Janice, brother Ralph and sister-in-law Wilma as we decorated graves of family members who have passed.
I felt a sense of guilt that I had not done this for several years; but felt good that I had resumed a family tradition. This is something I plan to continue to do every year.
Among those honored was my uncle, Gene Rennison, who died on Christmas Day, 1944, after the SS Leopoldville was torpedoed while transporting him and several other troops from England to France towards the Battle of the Bulge.
One of the many reasons I am proud to be the “voice” of the Missouri Mavericks is the Freedom Friday program in which the team honors those who have served our nation.
Early last season Mavericks Director of Ticket Sales, Ben Gaul, called me to ask of fans who have served. When I began to compile a list of Mavs fans who have worn the colors of our country I was amazed, but not surprised, at the number of fans who have signed on the dotted line to protect and serve us. I will not attempt to name them all for fear I would miss some.
I would like to pass along experiences some have relayed to me:
Kevin Gabert escorted military officers in Iraq. While off duty he caught fish in the pond at Saddam Hussein’s palace. He sends a letter to his son, Dustin, who is serving in the United States Army every day. Kevin was first in line when season tickets for the first Mavericks season went on sale in 2009.
Jim Whitfield spends many hours honoring U.S. veterans who have passed away. He is active with a group of people who provide military funerals. The Mavericks honored Jim during a Freedom Friday last season and later saluted his wife, Kathryn, who passed away during the season. Kathryn’s daughter, Kim, wearing her mother’s Mavericks jersey, and Jim dropped the puck during a ceremonial first puck drop. Mavericks’ fans also decorated Kathryn’s seat in the IEC that evening.
Joe Lynch, who serves as an off-ice official at Mavericks home games is proud of his Army career.
Also among those who we say thanks to are: the late Oakley Moser, whose daughter Erin is very active with the Junior Mavs, Mavs season ticket holders Jeff Tinder (U.S. Air Force), Michele Sumpter (U.S. Navy) and Laura Cambron, who left for training at Fort Hood, Texas before the season ended. While serving her country she cheered on the Mavs as she kept up with the team via the internet.
To those mentioned and to the many others for keeping us free and safe.