At halftime, Ole Miss’ battle against the Ragin’ Cajuns will halt to honor veterans during the annual military appreciation game.
This is not the first Ole Miss military appreciation game, but it is the first year the game will cap off a “Warrior Week,” which is dedicated to recognizing veterans and military service members.
The week included a social media campaign on the Ole Miss Athletics Facebook and Twitter pages. Photos of Ole Miss Student Veterans Association members were posted throughout the week.
Ole Miss Student Veterans of America (OMSVA) organized the events for Warrior Week. The organization exists to promote the welfare of university veterans and host charitable events in support of the community.
“What we want to highlight with this whole week is to make sure these veterans are taken care of, because they have done things, experienced things, seen things that no one on this campus will ever comprehend,” said Andrew Newby, Ole Miss’ assistant director of veteran and military services and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “But they are not dysfunctional or broken. They are a valuable asset to this campus.”
Each day this week, the Paris-Yates Chapel bells played a different service song for each of the armed forces: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
On game day, the OMSVA and ROTC will lead the Walk of Champions, a flyover will take place after the National Anthem and the Ole Miss alumni band will play all five service songs during the halftime performance.
The songs will feature a community veteran representing each military branch, and veterans and active duty personnel will be asked to stand for recognition as their service song is played.
Rebel fans will have the opportunity to thank veterans for the sacrifices they have made.
“While the OMSVA may be fairly young, they provide a vital bridge between existing service members and their new future in academia here at Ole Miss,” Newby said.
The Student Veterans Association’s office is located on the third floor of Martindale, but Newby said his vision for the organization extends far beyond the glass door of its office.
Three members of the 2017 Student Veterans Executive Committee will be recognized on the field during halftime.
Trent Bishop, president of the SVA, served 3 ½ years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The Columbus native was trained to handle high capacity line of sight communications but then began to work SATCOM Technologies to ensure the phones and internet connections worked properly.
“Think of me as the Verizon Wireless guy,” Bishop said.
He was deployed in Afghanistan from January to July in 2014.
“Even though we are back home and trying our hardest to be normal, the battle never stopped, from the moment we went to combat to the moment we take our last breath,” he said. “The community needs veterans, and veterans need the community.”
Treasurer Ken Biery, of Newport, Kentucky, served three years and was an Army combat medic. He also helped integrate new weapons and the testing of snowmobiles, explosives, parachutes, cold weather gear and other combat devices.
“There is no greater feeling than putting that uniform on every day and knowing that your service can make a difference in the world,” Biery said. “After being honorably discharged from the Army, I was called back in to serve in Desert Storm the first Gulf War. I am proud to say that I served under President Ronald Reagan during my time in the service.”
Air Force veteran Nicole Sherfield, community relations liaison, is from Amory. She served 3 ½ years and was a dental assistant stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base. She underwent both basic training and technology school in Texas and worked in support of the global war on terrorism.
“Meeting a lot of great people was the most rewarding part of serving,” Sherfield said.
Bishop, Biery and Sherfield will be recognized during halftime, along with the other executive committee members.