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by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders

DP's father - a veteran of the Vietnam War - symbolizes what Saturday’s Military Appreciation Night is all about

Rick DiPietro
The Islanders will celebrate Military Appreciation Night this Saturday when they play host to the New Jersey Devils. There may not be a player on the Islanders more honored to be a part of Military Appreciation Night than Rick DiPietro.

The Islanders' franchise goaltender knows more about the Vietnam War than you would probably expect, considering his father Rick flew as a helicopter pilot during the confrontation in East Asia.

"You watch all those movies like ‘Forest Gump’ and you see clips about the Vietnam War," said DiPietro. "It's something my dad and I talk about quite a bit. He touches upon all of the things he went through. I remember when I first found his military stuff. He had a cherry chain, which is something you get when you get shot down. He told me about that stuff. It's tough to imagine thinking you had these kids over there at 19. When I was 19, I was in college and he was over there fighting in a war. It’s definitely something I couldn't grasp and could imagine doing."

Rick's father enlisted in the Army in 1968 and joined up with a couple of very good friends and went in the buddy program to become a helicopter pilot. He went to basic training and flight school. After that, he went to Vietnam for a year. When he returned he was an instructor pilot for the rest of his tenure in the military, flying helicopters in the National Guard for the next 22 years. He ended up retiring with the National Guard just four years ago.

While Rick joins his team to play in Saturday's contest against the New Jersey Devils, Rick's father will be in the stands watching his son proudly as the Islanders honor the servicemen and women of this country.

"I think it's terrific and says a lot that the Islanders are having Military Appreciation Night," said Rick's father. "When I got back from Vietnam, there wasn't a lot of appreciation for the military. It was quite the contrary. It is really nice and would have been appreciated back then also. It's great that the Islanders have embraced the men and women in uniform and paid them tribute. It means a lot to folks who put their lives on the line all over the world."

Come watch one of the best goaltending duels in the NHL when Rick DiPietro goes head-to-head against Martin Brodeur.

Tickets are still available for this game, so get them now while you can.

To purchase individual game tickets, click here or visit the Coliseum box office, the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville or call Ticketmaster at 631.888.9000.

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