TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning will host their annual Military Appreciation Night, presented by USAA, this Thursday night when the team takes on the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. at AMALIE Arena. The game will feature military-themed elements throughout, including on Ford Thunder Alley prior to puck drop. Through the Lightning's Seats for Service program, more than 2,000 service men and women from MacDill Air Force Base will attend the game at no charge.
Military Night, presented by USAA, will feature the return of USAF Technical Sergeant (Ret.) Sonya Bryson singing the national anthem alongside 101-year old LT Robert McClintock from the US Army Air Corps (Ret.). McClintock served in World War II and joined the US Army Air Corps at the age of 17. The presentation of the US Colors will be performed by US Central Command Joint Service Color Guard and will be accompanied by service personnel from the US Special Operations Command from MacDill AFB. Prior to the anthem, a moment of remembrance will be observed.
The Thunder Kid skater will be Aidan Smith, a seven-year-old from the Lightning rec team at AdventHealth Center Ice. Aidan will join the Lightning on the ice for the national anthem, along with his US Marine Corps parents; Staff Sergeant Gloria Smith (Ret.) and Sergeant Sam Smith (Ret.). Sam is currently a member of the Lightning Sled Hockey team and Gloria serves as the manager of the team.
The Lightning will honor other select current and retired military members throughout the night. There will be a Marines enlistment ceremony during the first intermission followed by a rappel demonstration from the rafters by SOCOM members. The Lightning have also teamed up with Chase and Building Homes for Heroes who will be presenting a mortgage free home to a military family.
On Ford Thunder Alley, fans will find several military vehicles to see up close and personal, including Jeep, Humvee and Trac unit. Fans will also be able to show their appreciation with the "Saluting Our Heroes" banner on Ford Thunder Alley. They will have the opportunity to sign a large banner which will later be cut and distributed to military organizations.
The players will also wear camo jerseys during pre-game warm-ups and give those jerseys to military members on the ice following the conclusion of the game. Camo jerseys and other merchandise will be available for purchase at the Tampa Bay Sports store inside AMALIE Arena.