Blue Raiders salute veterans at Nov. 7 football game, honors MTSU ROTC program's 70th anniversary

Nov 06, 2020 at 10:00 am by Voice Wire

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Carrick McCarthy, who heads the MTSU Military Science program, is shown with a group of eight shadowbox photo displays of former university ROTC cadets who died in combat while serving their country, and an accompanying plaque in Forrest Hall. The shadowboxes will be on display from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building, 628 Alma Mater Drive, leading to the 39th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game between MTSU and Charlotte in Floyd Stadium. This marks the 70th anniversary of the program. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

As part of Middle Tennessee State University's recognition of Veterans Day, the 39th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, in Floyd Stadium.

The game between the MT Blue Raiders (2-5 overall, 2-3 in Conference USA) and Charlotte 49ers (2-3, 2-1), will be broadcast on ESPN3. 

Because of COVID-19, a number of pregame activities were canceled by the MT Athletics Veterans Committee, who already are brainstorming and looking ahead to the 40th anniversary in November 2021.

Learn more about MT game day protocols here. Seating is limited to 7,000 fans, with 1,000 set aside for students, and all spaced accordingly, meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. 

A shadowbox display featuring eight former ROTC cadets — Lt. Gerald W. Davidson, Capt. Charles G. Tucker, Lt. George W. Burkheart, Lt. John E. Fuqua, Capt. Joe R. Fulghum Jr., Capt. Robert R. Boyd, Capt. Pierre E. Piche and Lt. Kenneth M. Ballard — will be on display for public viewing at the Veterans Memorial site from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Masks are required and social distancing must be observed to create a safe environment. 

All of them left MTSU as second lieutenants and died in combat while serving their country.

The photo display prepared by the Department of Military Science, which is led by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Carrick McCarthy, replaces the normal pregame memorial service.

“The Veteran Memorial event will be a little different this year,” said Hilary Miller, director of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. “We feel it is important to recognize our MTSU military members who fell in service while still maintaining appropriate social distancing.… The community is invited to pay their respects.”

McCarthy said that after arriving at MTSU several years ago, “it was very important that our cadets understood those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and this display has been strategically placed outside the student lounge (in Forrest Hall) so that they are seeing them every day or every other day, and take time to read the citations.”

“I want them to understand that in the back of their mind we are training them for service to our country and that can naturally come with some danger, but it's a very honorable thing to have given your life in service to your country and to your fellow service men and women,” McCarthy added 

Also canceled are the tailgate and pregame picnic, Joe Nunley Award ceremony and other activities. 

About 50 current ROTC cadets will be recognized during the first quarter of the game and receive special T-shirts.

The MTSU Band of Blue will perform from the stands, plus the videoboard will show highlights from previous years' halftime parades and history from founding committee member John Furgess of Nashville, Tennessee, said Chelsea Floyd, assistant athletics director for marketing and licensing. 

Floyd said game sponsor and MTSU partner T-Mobile “is providing limited number of tickets to any veteran,” free and available at the Daniels Center in Keathley University Center Room 124 on a first come, first served basis. Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 615-904-8347 for more information.

At halftime, a cadet will carry the U.S. flag and stand at midfield as the band performs “God Bless America” and other songs. During each quarter, the band will perform songs representing each military branch.

“We are wanting to really let our Blue Raider fans understand and to educate them on the history of the 39 years of this tradition and how it started and how it has continued over the years,” Floyd said. 

Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the annual U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots drive.

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