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Devils celebrate Army veteran as Hero of the Game

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils
Corporal Michael Bloom looks on as he's recognized by the fans at Prudential Center while his father cheers and his brother films the experience. Bloom served in Kosovo and Iraq with the US Army and more recently has spent 10 years as a police officer. Photo by Courtney Gfroerer

Corporal Michael Bloom has dedicated his life to service. The 37-year-old Sayreville resident served in the Army from 1999-2004 and for the last 10 years has been a police officer, currently serving in Chatham, NJ. On October 13, as the Devils fought the Nashville Predators, the team honored Bloom as its Hero of the Game, and fans gave him a standing ovation.

It would seem military service is encoded in Cpl. Bloom’s DNA. His father served in the Navy, and he has uncles who served in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. For Bloom, choosing the Army was easy, as it was the only branch that would allow him to jump out of planes.

As a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, “We jumped out of airplanes for a living,” Cpl. Bloom said. “That was something I always wanted to do.” In addition to paratrooper duties, Bloom also worked as a combat engineer, using explosives to eliminate obstacles for infantry.

In 2001, Cpl. Bloom was sent to Kosovo for six months as part of a UN Peacekeeping mission, helping protect a town from violence. “We were the security for the kids, and would escort them back and forth to school, and just guard the schools.”

Cpl. Bloom was also part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003, where he served in a security capacity.

Following his retirement from the military, Cpl. Bloom transitioned to civilian life, as a police officer, which he called an easy transition. “It’s kind of the same thing. Security, protecting people…from being in the military, a lot of the missions I had were protecting people.”

While he’s been serving his country for the greater part of two decades, he’s been a Devils fan since the team’s original home was known as Brendan Byrne Arena. “Me and my dad went to Game 7 against Anaheim [in 2003]. I’ve always loved the Devils.”

Watching legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur secure a shutout victory in that game is “easily” Cpl. Bloom’s best memory of the future Hockey Hall of Famer. “We’re coming [back to Prudential Center] in February when they retire his number.”

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