HUNTSVILLE, AL – The first period ended, 12 players skated off the ice, and 15 young men walked quickly out into the bright ice rink as the crowd continued to cheer. The Huntsville Havoc honored the men and women who have served, and are still serving, our country during their first Military Night of the season on December 28, 2020.
The Huntsville Havoc are a professional ice hockey team in the Southern Professional Hockey League. They play their home games at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville, Alabama.
The night began with Soldiers rappelling onto the ice before a local high school JROTC color guard presented the colors during the national anthem.
Instead of heading to the locker rooms after the end of the first period, both teams stayed near their benches. Staff Sgt. Brianna Pate, a Marine recruiter for Recruiting Substation (RSS) Huntsville, led 12 poolees and three Marines onto the ice.
“It was an honor to march out the poolees and new Marines onto the ice,” said Pate. “When Lt. Gen. Thurgood asked the poolees to raise their right hand, I could visibly see the chills it gave them to take the oath in front of the cheering crowd.”
Army Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood gave the oath of enlistment at the center of the ice of the Von Braun Center Monday evening. Thurgood is the Director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
After the ceremony, the general greeted the three Marines who were home on recruiter’s assistance through the holidays.
“In high school I went to football, basketball and baseball games but I’ve never been to a hockey game,” said Pfc. Travis Coble. “It was shocking at my first hockey game that I stood in front of hundreds of people in the middle of the rink.”
Coble graduated from Hazel Green High School in 2014. He joined the Marines as a military occupation specialty 0331 Machine Gunner. Coble returned to his hometown on recruiter’s assistance through Christmas and New Year’s.
“I’m proud to see my Marines make the time to be involved in their community,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ronald Hawsey, RSS Huntsville station commander and Tennessee native, originally from Franklin. “Staff Sgt. Pate coordinated this amazing opportunity to recognize the future Marines in their hometown.”
Hawsey previously served as the station commander for RSS Chattanooga in 2018.
Marine recruiters work toward giving individuals the same opportunity they took when joining the Marine Corps. Pate grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She graduated from Paul W. Bryant High School in 2013. Pate explained, “I’m excited to be back home to help people reach their goal. Roll Tide!”