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Oct. 3, 2016


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The win for South Carolina men’s soccer over Marshall at Stone Stadium on Sunday night was more than just a victory for the Gamecocks. It was also a night to honor military members, past and present, for Heroes Night Out.

“We want to thank these gentlemen for their service, and for all the people around the world that keep us all safe,” head coach Mark Berson told his team in the locker room prior to Sunday’s match as the veterans and current servicemen stood behind him. “No one can predict what the world is going to be like in the future, but you can be sure that there are going to be people like these guys who are going to help keep you safe and your children safe. We appreciate all you guys do.”

All military members and their families received freed admission to the game. Honorees were given a VIP tour of the new soccer locker room and weight room facility before the game and met with the Gamecocks’ coaches and student-athletes. University of South Carolina Air Force ROTC members presented the colors for the national anthem and the servicemen and veterans were introduced to the crowd prior to kickoff. A special halftime video was played honoring those who have served.

“We talk about sacrifice to our guys, and we can’t imagine anybody who embodies that any more than you guys,” South Carolina assistant coach Spencer Lewis told the group before leading them on a tour.

We’re just so appreciative of South Carolina being so concerned about our veterans and inviting us to be here.

John Elingburg, U.S. Army (retired)

The Gamecocks rose to attention when the active servicemen and veterans came into the locker room before the game, and each attendee met all of the team members individually.

“It’s great to come here and get a tour of the facility and meet the team,” said retired U.S. Army first sergeant Keith Taylor, who lives in Laurens, S.C. “We really do appreciate everything (South Carolina) is doing for our veterans. It’s nice to get the recognition and to know how much they appreciate the military and what they do for our freedom. A lot of people out there just don’t know the sacrifices of the soldiers, sailors and servicemen. It’s a tremendous sacrifice, and they’re all volunteers now.”

“We’re just so appreciative of South Carolina being so concerned about our veterans and inviting us to be here,” said retired U.S. Army medical corpsman John Elingburg, who served as a combat medic in the Vietnam War.

“I’ve always been treated so wonderfully here,” said Denny Sago, Sr. who spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and is the father of the men’s soccer volunteer assistant coach who shares his name. “We love the Coach, we love Cocky, and we love everyone involved with the program.”

Military attendees also received an Operation Hat Trick cap, which is an organization that supports America’s wounded veterans, active service members, and their families.

“I just wanted to come out and support the local community,” said Elton Lambert, who is currently serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson in Columbia. “My wife and I both played soccer in high school, so we’re fans and it’s kind of neat to get an opportunity to see a sport other than football.”