PRESS RELEASE – The Somerset Patriots unveiled a permanent tribute to Prisoners Of War and soldiers Missing In Action at TD Bank Ballpark. The Somerset Patriots are the first professional sports team in New Jersey to dedicate a “POW/MIA Chair Of Honor” in recognition of the men and women who served our country and did not return home.
In partnership with the American Legion Riders Post 12- Somerville, the Somerset Patriots have dedicated an area of the ballpark on the main concourse behind home plate for the tribute. The area is painted black and includes a black stadium chair, a POW/MIA logo placed behind the chair, and a plaque commemorating the sacrifices made by U.S. troops serving our nation.
The space is roped off and the chair is to forever remain unoccupied to honor American Prisoners of War and those Missing In Action.
“The POW/MIA Chair Of Honor will be a strong and constant reminder to anybody who visits our ballpark about the price of freedom and not to take the men and women who serve our nation for granted. We honor all the ‘True Patriots’ who have served with this very special tribute,” said Steve Kalafer, the Chairman of the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club.
The unveiling took place at the conclusion of the 11th Annual Veterans of America Day ceremony before the Patriots game against the Sugar Land Skeeters at TD Bank Ballpark on Sunday, August 18th.
“Thank you to the Somerset Patriots for partnering with the Riders of American Legion Post 12 in dedicating The POW/MIA Chair Of Honor to remember the men and women of our Armed Forces who have sacrificed themselves for the freedom and safety of others. May this POW/MIA Chair Of Honor serve as a permanent reminder to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to those who are or who have been Prisoners of War, and to those classified Missing in Action that never returned. Freedom is not free, “ said Jon Asdourian, Director of the American Legion Riders Post 12- Somerville.
All veterans in attendance were recognized for their courage and service to the United States. The pre-game ceremony included guests of honor Colonel Jack H. Jacobs and Specialist Four Andy Martin. Col. Jacobs is a recipient of the Medal Of Honor (1969) for actions in Vietnam and also has two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. He was in the U.S Army and the platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. He also served as the Battalion Executive Officer in the 7th Infantry Division and a Battalion Commander for the 10th Infantry Regiment in Panama.
Specialist Four Martin is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the 2nd Battalion- 47th Infantry of the United States Army. He is the recipient of the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, and two Army Commendations For Valor.
The ceremony also featured a special reenactment of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima by Marines who have just returned from Iraq and a flyover of World War II planes.
All Veterans received complimentary tickets to enjoy the game with their families and friends.
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Thanks to John Cerone for the story.