The Kraft family and the New England Patriots thanked the real patriots with a number of game-day activities that honored more than 180 veterans and active duty military members during the team’s 2014 Salute to Service game – a 34-9 win against the Detroit Lions – at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 23.
Among those honored during Sunday’s win were Foxborough residents and World War II veterans Josephine Miller and Edward Mousseau. Miller, 91, served as a Marine Sgt. in the Women’s Marine Corps Reserve, and Mousseau, 91, received a Silver Star for his service in the United States Army. Both were appreciative of Sunday’s experience.
“This is very special,” said Mousseau. “The weather and ceremony on the field were so nice – I couldn’t ask for a better day.”
Said Miller: “This is such a wonderful event for our veterans and I am very happy to be here. This is a great experience.”
Mousseau and Miller joined other veterans and active duty members on the field during a special pregame ceremony that featured a flyover by two F-15C fighter jets from the 104th Fighter Wing, 131st Fighter Squadron at the end of the National Anthem, which was performed by the Massachusetts Army National Guard Voices of Freedom.
Prior to the flyover, New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and President Jonathan Kraft joined Patriots Cheerleaders, players, veterans and active duty military members in unfurling three American flags on the field. Retiring U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General William Thornton and Major Warren Graham served as the game’s honorary captains and participated in the pre-game coin toss.
Thirty-four Patriots players have family ties to the military, and several were honored during the game when all servicemen and women were asked to stand and be recognized while the crowd sang along to “God Bless America.” The Patriots also honored Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts, of Nashua, N.H., who received the Medal of Honor for distinguishing himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Forward Observer in 2d Platoon, Chosen Company, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. Staff Sgt. Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on July 21, 2014. To read more about Staff Sgt. Pitts’ heroic acts, visit www.army.mil/medalofhonor/pitts/profile/index.html.
The Marine Corps’ Silent Drill Platoon performed at halftime.
As part of the NFL’s annual Salute to Service campaign, the league donates $100 for every point scored during the 32 designated Salute to Service games to its non-profit military partners – the Pat Tillman Foundation, the USO and Wounded Warrior Project.