On a warm sunny Saturday afternoon, September 27th of this year – members from LAFD once again partnered with the University of Southern California (USC) to bring Wounded Warriors and military veterans to Los Angeles for a full day of camaraderie, fun and football.
Prior to the game, a tailgate BBQ feast was served up by Master BBQ chefs Mark Curry (29-C), Greg Pascolla (80-C), and their trusted partner Greg Malais (11-C). A couple hundred people filtered through the tailgate BBQ where LAFD Wounded Warriors, Military Veterans, and many other LAFD members shared some great food, drink, and stories while honoring the sacrifices of our military heroes.
On Saturday evening, our hosted warriors headed into the Coliseum for the USC football game. During the game, LAFD members (including many of our own military veterans) and honored Purple Heart recipients were brought out onto the field in front of the 90,000 spectators where each was awarded a “Hero of the Game” medal which was placed around their neck. A highlight of the game was the standing ovation the Wounded Warriors and our LAFD firefighters received as they were coming off the field. The USC Trojan victory over Oregon State by a score of 35-10 made for an enjoyable end to the evening.
Our honored heroes (with their branch of service) this year included: Steven Dolan – US Army, Mike Franklin – US Army, Jim Dolan – Marine Corps, Ray Ligutom – Marine Corps, Robert Rodriquez – US Army, John Gardenas – Marine Corps, Jarod Behee – US Army, Anthony Porter – US Army, Ernie Lopez – US Navy and Kevin Enoch – Marine Corps.
Thank you to Battalion Chief Tom Ottman for his selflessness in making this event happen, to the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association for their sponsorship, to Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas for his support and attendance, to Karen Wagener from the Fire Foundation for her continued support, and to Matt Ackels from USC for his outstanding dedication in setting up and supporting the event.
This event was certainly in keeping with the highest standards and traditions of the LAFD. Our honored military veterans and the Purple Heart recipients were truly blown away by the respect, dedication and professionalism displayed by our members during the tailgate and the awards ceremony during the game.
By Al Poirier