The Vikings, in a joint effort with the NFL and USAA, will host the team’s annual “Salute to Service” military appreciation game on Veterans Day this Sunday, November 11. The Vikings-Lions matchup will be dedicated to all branches of the United States Armed Forces and current and former military personnel serving our country.
As part of the game, each player’s helmet will contain a decal representing one branch of the military. Players will wear camouflage gloves and use camouflage towels, while coaches and staff will don “Salute to Service” ribbons. Game officials will use footballs with the military-themed ribbon decal as well as a special “Salute to Service” coin for the coin toss.
Along with the military-themed gear, the Vikings will use a variety of pre-game, in-game and halftime elements (complete list below) to honor Minnesotans within all branches of military service. The team is also encouraging all fans to arrive early in order to participate in one of the day’s highlights – a card stunt during the singing of the National Anthem.
“The Vikings have the utmost respect for all of the men and women who currently serve – or have served – our country,” said Vikings Vice President of Sales and Marketing/Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix. “Many of our players, coaches and staff have a direct connection to military personnel. This is an opportunity for the team and our fans to show our appreciation for the selfless individuals in every branch of service.”
“One of the most powerful moments of an NFL game is when thousands of fans stand to honor the military and veterans,” said Don Clark, USAA executive director of sports sponsorships and events. “We hope all fans will join us in the card stunt, and then visit millionfansalute.com to download and share photos and create a digital salute to honor the military on behalf of the Vikings.”
The following is a list of many prominent “Salute to Service” game elements that will be employed on Sunday:
• Honorary Viking/Gjallarhorn – Betty Strohfus – Known as Betty Wall during her Army Air Force days, Elizabeth Wall Strohfus was one of just over 1,000 American women who flew military aircraft during World War II.
• Honorary Captain – Sergeant Brian Neill – A member of the Minnesota National Guard for 23 years, Sergeant Brian Neill is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sergeant Neill sustained injuries while deployed from 2005-07 with Bravo Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion.
• 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band Performances – The Red Bulls Band will perform during pregame and halftime. The halftime performance will include the display of a large American flag.
• USS Minnesota Recognition – On October 27, 2012, the Navy christened its newest submarine, the USS Minnesota, in Newport News, VA. The Minnesota is the 10th ship of the Virginia Class Submarine and is named in honor of the State’s citizens and their continued support to the Nation’s military.
• Team Introductions – Uniformed National Guard members will line the tunnel exit with the Vikings cheerleaders, while the first and last Vikings players out of the tunnel will carry an American flag.
• Minnesota Joint Forces Color Guard – Sunday’s Color Guard will represent all branches of service.
• In Memoriam – A traditional riderless horse will cross through the end zone during a moment of silence and will remain through the National Anthem.
• National Anthem – National country music recording artist James Otto will sing the National Anthem.
• Card Stunt – During the singing of the National Anthem, the entire stadium will participate in a card stunt presented by USAA. The stunt will display a patriotic message and stars/stripes graphics. The Vikings are asking fans to be in their seats 15 minutes prior to kickoff to ensure full-stadium participation. A photo of a recent card stunt is attached, and media members can contact Renee Rosenow at 612.573.3151 for opportunities to film card stunt set-up this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
• Game Coin – Game officials will use a Military Challenge Coin, which is traditionally used in the Armed Forces to recognize achievement and performance and was created specifically for the “Salute to Service” game. A photo of the coin is attached.
• Thank You Card – The Vikings, along with the American Legion of Elk River and the Minnesota National Guard will attempt to make the “Biggest Thank You Card in the World” for the troops of Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company who are currently stationed in Afghanistan. The card is 16 feet high and 48 feet across and the goal is to collect 257,000 signatures prior to the return of these deployed troops and be recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records. Fans can sign portions of the card at various locations in the concourse or outside Gate H prior to the game.
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