As part of the National Football League's Salute to Service campaign, the Jaguars will host their annual Military Appreciation game this Sunday when they play the Arizona Cardinals at EverBank Field at 1 p.m. Among the many military activities surrounding the game, the Jaguars will recognize retired Admiral James G. Stavridis for his service and career in the U.S. Navy. Stavridis, who most recently served as commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, will be introduced as part of the game activities.
Stavridis earned many decorations and awards throughout his career, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal, and five awards of the Legion of Merit. His commands included U.S. Southern Command, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, Destroyer Squadron 21, and the Destroyer USS Barry. His command with Enterprise was in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
A 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stavridis earned a Ph.D. and MALD in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges.
"The military family is a large part of the Jacksonville community, and it's our honor to recognize all service members, and Admiral Stavridis in particular," said Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. "The tributes and military-themed activities we will have in EverBank Field on Sunday are the least we can do to thank the men and women who serve our country. We look forward to welcoming them and showing our gratitude on Sunday."
"It is a wonderful honor for me to return to my hometown and be part of an event that combines our Jaguars and the U.S. military," Stavridis said. "I accept this recognition on behalf of all the superb Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Soldiers with whom I was privileged to serve for over 35 years of active duty."
Sponsoring the game day activities are CSX and the USO. Leading up to the game, the Jaguars will hold a private practice for active duty military personnel hosted by Florida Blue. Shad Kahn will inaugurate the City of Jacksonville Veterans Resource and Reintegration Center with a $1 million dollar grant from the Jaguars Foundation. The Jaguars will also donate more than 7,000 tickets for the game to active, retired and reservist personnel and their dependents.
On game day the team will recognize veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The team will be led onto the field by Sailors and Marines from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. A moment of silence will be held, followed by a 21-gun salute conducted by the NAS Jacksonville Honor Support Team. The colors will be presented by both a joint color guard and the VFW District 6 Color Guard, and a group of wounded warriors will be recognized on the field as well. The Jaguars Foundation 50/50 Raffle for Charity during the game will benefit K9s for Warriors.
The national anthem will be performed by Navy Musician 2nd Class Laura Carey. An American field flag will be held by Soldiers and Airmen of the Florida National Guard. More than 500 members from all five branches from local and regional bases – including NAS Jacksonville, NS Mayport, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Tyndall Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and regional Coast Guard units – will stand in formation on the field. Following the national anthem, the flyover will be conducted by two L-39 Albatrosses of the Black Diamond Jet Team, America's premiere civilian demonstration team. Flying in formation will be U.S. Navy Retired Captain Dale "Snort" Snodgrass and Jared Isaacman.
At halftime, an induction ceremony will take place involving more than 200 recruits from all military branches. The oath will be conducted by Brigadier General John Hort, who currently serves as the Deputy Commander for the 3rd Infantry Division. General Hort's significant awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantry Badge with a star, and he is a ranger and airborne qualified. Following the induction ceremony, there will be a performance of 'God Bless America.'