GREENVILLE, N.C. – All five branches of the United States Armed Forces will be welcomed, recognized and thanked at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday for Military Appreciation Day.
East Carolina fans will also be able to enjoy many patriotic activities, including a pre-game military family tailgate, pre-game flyover and an up-close look at military displays.
The Pirates will host SMU for an American Athletic Conference battle beginning at 12 noon (EST).
As part of its annual "Tickets For Troops" initiative, approximately 5,000 tickets have been donated to nearly two dozen various military installations or groups including Camp LeJeune, Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson Air Force base, and more.
A complimentary tailgate for immediate family members of deployed North Carolina soldiers, ECU ROTC cadets and Wounded Warrior Project alumni will be celebrated at Clark-LeClair Stadium from 8-11 a.m. and ECU will provide plenty of food and inflatable games for children to express appreciation to an expected group of over 600 individuals.
Prior to the game, fans can get a detailed look at various military displays (10 total) and vehicles that will be located adjacent to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and
Clark-LeClair Stadium. Included in the lineup this year will be a STEM Asset Experience provided by the US Army, multiple Humvees, and a bomb-detecting robot.
The first 20,000 fans who enter Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday will receive a complimentary mini-American flag.
The 169th Fighter Wing unit of the South Carolina Air National Guard, located at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, will provide a pre-game flyover. ECU alums Colonel Scott Bridgers and Captain Jason Pukalo will pilot the two (2) F-16 Fighting Falcons.
The flyover is schedule to occur in conjunction with the National Anthem at approximately 11:50 a.m.
While Scottie Montgomery's program will continue its pre-game tradition of running out on the field with the United States flag, the North Carolina flag, the ECU flag and the American Conference flag, the Pirates will also carry flags representing each of the five military branches. A family from each branch has been selected to receive the respective flags, which will be handed off in the Boneyard endzone.
Honorary captain Major General Frank Padilla, U.S. Marine Corps and 1982 East Carolina alum will be on hand for the ceremonial coin toss. Major General Padilla is the current President of The National Defense University.
Inductees of the ECU Distinguished Military Service Society, who are being honored Friday night during a banquet at the Greenville Hilton, as well as other dignitaries from military bases and installations around the state, will also be recognized during halftime.