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Air Force takes flight at Wings' game

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The Red Wings presented the first Military Monday of the season during the Jan. 16 home game against the Buffalo Sabres. The 49th consecutive sellout was the first of four scheduled salutes to the military that will take place at Joe Louis Arena through the end of the season.

In partnership with 3-Dimensional Services and in association with the U.S. Air Force and 99.5 WYCD, the Wings offered a special ticket discount for veterans and active members of the armed forces. In addition, the first 10,000 fans in attendance received a souvenir dog tag courtesy of the Wings and 3-Dimensional Services.

Active and retired military members were also offered the opportunity to watch the game from the Quicken Loans’ Budd Lynch Veterans Suite, which is being sponsored by 3-Dimensional Services Group at all Monday night home games.

3-Dimensional Services Group, the main partner of Military Mondays, is a prototype and low-volume production firm that has a history of supporting the military both as a client and as a donor.

Keith Chene, chief financial officer of 3-Dimensional Services, attended the game and expressed his enthusiasm for the inaugural Military Monday.

“We’re big supporters of the military,” said Chene, whose father was in the armed services. “We do some Department of Defense work, and the owner, the management in-house felt that we owe a debt to any branch of the armed service. … There’s not enough we can do to say, ‘Thank you.’ And that’s really all it is.”

Even though the dog tags will only be handed out at four games this season, 3-Dimensional Services is helping to underwrite the cost of the Budd Lynch Veterans Suite for all service members, having a different branch of the armed forces represented each night.

“This is our initial experience,” Chene said. “I can’t say enough about how they (the Wings) are promoting it.”

Before the game, Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Williams and Master Sgt. Corey Hartzler accompanied Karen Newman onto the ice for her singing of 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.

“To be thought of and considered for an opportunity like that – it’s surreal,” Hartzler said. “Obviously Karen is one in a million, and to be out there and recognized as Air Force in general is awesome. We really appreciate that opportunity.”

After escorting the singer off the ice, Hartzler was able to relax and watch the game in the Budd Lynch suite with one of his sons. 

Along with Williams, Hartzler is part of the 339th Recruiting Squadron, a unit based out of Clinton Township, Michigan, that covers a 54,000 square mile area – encompassing northern Ohio and northern Indiana – in its efforts to recruit men and women for the Air Force.

A few other members of the squadron operated a booth on the main concourse of The Joe where they registered interested recruits and handed out free pens, wristbands and pucks.

One of those personnel was Master Sgt. Mario Cardoza, who has been in the Air Force for 17 years, the past 11 of which he has spent with the recruiting service. Cardoza helped man the booth on the concourse and expressed how events like the Military Monday are as much an opportunity to garner new interest in the armed services as they are a time to recognize those who have served.

“The squadron brought us out here to inform the public, the fans, anyone that comes up to the gate tonight about the Air Force’s opportunities, the different career fields, the different qualification factors that we may have in order for an individual to come in and be part of our team,” Cardoza said.

Cardoza travels to schools, campuses and events like the Military Mondays to promote careers in the military, and he noted that, along with the young people who signed up and the many veterans who stopped by to talk shop, many people approached the active-duty members at the booth simply to express thanks.

“Doing something like this, being invited out here by the Red Wings, we certainly enjoy the appreciation of the fans,” Cardoza said. “They’ll come by our booth and shake our hands and tell us they really appreciate what we do for the country and for the world. It’s definitely something that gives us a feeling of pride.”

Upcoming Military Monday games will take place Jan. 23 vs. St. Louis; March 19 vs. Washington; and March 26 vs. Columbus.

A special ticket offer is available for veterans and active military members. Anyone with a valid military I.D. can take advantage of a discount of between $7 and $8 per ticket depending upon seat location. Tickets are limited and are only available prior to game day by calling Chad Wardie at 313-396-7577.

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