COLUMBUS, Ohio -- To most fans, sporting a Blue Jackets t-shirt or jersey during a Blue Jackets game is an easy decision: take it out of your closet, make sure it’s reasonably clean, and pull it on.
Yet, for the soldiers in the Bravo Company, 1-211th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Storm, stationed at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan, that simple pleasure is a brief reprieve from a harsh combat lifestyle.
Last month, the Blue Jackets received a letter from platoon leader Lieutenant Jacob Ingebritson, who informed us of a group of dedicated and passionate Blue Jackets fans serving overseas. They gather as often as possible to watch the games on the Armed Forces Network (AFN).
In Ingebritson’s words, these soldiers “perform marvelously while being subjected to the unforgiving conditions of combat.”
They serve their country without question while enduring a reality devoid of many daily luxuries that most of us take for granted.
Still, they carry the flag.
For them, gathering to watch Blue Jackets games is not only a time to shed their issued uniform and show their Blue Jackets pride, it’s a time for them to feel as if they’re back home with their friends and family, cheering on the team they love.
“The games on AFN are the highlight of our time here for many of us due to the camaraderie amongst soldiers and the pure enjoyment of sports,” Ingebritson said.
For the 20 members of the Bravo Company “Buccaneers” who call themselves Blue Jackets fans, watching Blue Jackets games together has become a ritual that they practice as often as possible.
“We make every effort to watch as many Blue Jackets games as possible, which is as close as we can get to feeling like we are not in a combat zone,” Ingebritson said.
The Bravo Company’s deployment ends in a couple of months, and the Buccaneers expect to return home to their friends and families shortly after the New Year.
Now that’s something to cheer for.
The Blue Jackets are inviting fans to write a personalized message of gratitude to the members of the Buccaneers. We will include your letters in a care package to be sent to the platoon next week.
If you would like to write a message to the Bravo Company, click here.