Win or lose, this Saturday will be a historic game for the Auburn Tigers as they take on the Texas A&M Aggies for only the third time in school history and for the first time as a SEC west opponent. While Auburn’s season so far in 2012 hasn’t quite been what fans would had expected, with several injuries to key players and its worst start in 60 years, however for some members of the Auburn Family this Saturday’s game maybe the most memorable weekend on the plains of their lives.
Earlier in October it was announced from the athletic department that October 27th would be named Military Appreciation Day. It’s no surprise that Texas A&M was selected as the opponent for this occasion as the newly added SEC school has been known for taking its military tradition about as seriously as Auburn takes its own traditions regarding football.
While Auburn has been known for having one of the bigger ROTC programs in the conference, it pales in comparison to the Aggies Corps of Cadets. Without going into detail, the Corps of Cadets is the oldest function student organization on A&M’s campus and has sent more officers into active duty than any other university besides the three service academies. Members and representatives from both universities will be participating in this weekend’s festivities which will begin on Friday the 26th.
The first of the two Friday events will be the 10th annual Keystone Leader-in-Residence lecture with speakers Gen. Lloyd Austin III ’86, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, and his wife Charlene Austin ’85, who are both graduates of Auburn’s College of Education’s counselor education graduate program. According to the College of Liberal Arts homepage, “(The) college's Keystone Leader-in-Residence program introduces students to proven leaders in education, human services, health services, community services and government.”
The hour long lecture will begin at 11 a.m. in the Auburn Alumni Center and is open to students, faculty and members of the community. At 4 p.m. there will be another lecture in the Alumni Center led by Dr. JoEllen Sefton on Auburn Warrior research. Subject matter will range from Blackhawk helicopters to new infantry recruits and the research being done to improve the lives of our military, veterans and families. This event is also open to the general public.
On Saturday, there will be a wide range of game day festivities in and outside of the stadium and will be open to fans all day. The Dixie Division Military Vehicles Club will be donating military vehicles ranging from World War II to Vietnam War era and will be setup on display at Dawson Lawn across from the Auburn Arena. DRASH will also be set up at Dawson Lawn. DRASH stands for Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter and is our militaries main form of housing in deployed combat. Fans will have the opportunity to get a look inside of these high tech, quick-erect shelters. Members of Auburn’s ROTC will lead the team into Jordan Hare in Saturday’s Tiger Walk, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
Many Auburn fans will be pleased to hear that the pre-game festivities will include an F-16 flyover. The four man flight crew will include pilots Drew Lehman and Mike Rose both graduates of Auburn and Texas A&M respectively. Four Wounded Warriors will join the team captains during the coin flip, which will be done with a limited edition Soldier Silver Dollar which will be donated by the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga.
Auburn players will be wearing a special Military Appreciation Day helmet sticker on the back of their helmets and the Auburn coaching staff will have the same decal on their game day shirts. The 1/117 Field Artillery Bn, Salute Cannon Team, Alabama National Guard, will be posted on the field during the game, and if we’re lucky, may fire off blanks after Auburn scoring drives. At halftime the Auburn University Marching Band will have a special military tune playlist and weather permitting the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team will perform a free fall parachute demonstration.
Auburn has also partnered with Gameday For Heroes in order to make tickets available to active military and veterans. Fans will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets for members of our military or donate tickets for them to use.
So make sure to come out this weekend and support the tigers and the troops, you’ll be glad that you did.