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Nov. 13, 2003

Columbia, S.C. –

The University of South Carolina Athletics Department will conduct its annual Salute to the Armed Forces at this Saturday’s football game at Williams-Brice Stadium between the Gamecocks and 15th-ranked Florida. The event, which coincides with USC’s closest home game to Veterans Day, has become one of the most moving and patriotic programs in all of college football. Gamecock supporters, along with fans from the visiting teams, have embraced this event as something special, as Carolina salutes those brave men and women who so faithfully serve this country while protecting our freedom around the globe.

The entire halftime program will be dedicated to the Armed Forces. Branches from the various military installations from across the state of South Carolina will be recognized. One of the largest (50 yards by 30 yards) American flags in the country will be unfurled on the field. There will be singing of patriotic songs along with a fly-over
This year, Carolina will pay a special tribute to those South Carolinians who have lost their lives while serving America during the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, there have been 12 natives of the Palmetto State who have been killed in action during this time. Members of their families have been invited to attend this Saturday’s game as guests of the USC Athletics Department. They will be recognized at halftime during a special program that Gamecock fans will not want to miss. Those native South Carolinians who will be remembered are:

Army Staff Sgt. George Buggs, 31, from Barnwell (stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., died March 23)

Army Spec. Orenthial J. Smith, 21, from Allendale County (stationed at Dexheim, Germany, died June 22)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Griffin, Jr., 31, from Elgin (stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, died May 13)

Marine Pvt. Nolen Hutchings, 20, from Boiling Springs (stationed at Camp Lejeune, died March23/April 12)

Army Spec. Darius Jennings, 22, from Cordova (stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, died November 2)

Army Pfc. Spence McNeil, 19, from Bennettsville (stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, died March 8)

Army Capt. Josh Byers, 29, from Anderson (stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, died July 23)

Army Pfc. Vorn J. Mack, 19, from Orangeburg (stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, died August 23)

Marine Capt. Daniel G. McCollum, 29, from Irmo (stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., died Jan. 9, 2002)

Army Staff Sgt. Anthony O. Thompson, 26, from Branchville (stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, died September 18)

Army Pfc. Michael Scott Adams, 20, from Spartanburg County (stationed at Baumholder, Germany, died August 21)

Staff Sgt. Paul M. Neff, 30, from Fort Mill (stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., died November 7)

“Carolina would like to take this opportunity on Saturday to recognize the Armed Forces and what they mean to this nation,” said Mike McGee, USC director of athletics. “We owe so much to those in the military and to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the families of these South Carolinians who have lost their lives during this recent war. We will be eternally grateful for the ultimate price they have paid for our country.”