Saturday, November 21Gator Football vs. Florida Atlantic
As a part of Saluting Those Who Serve, throughout the game various military members, veterans and local first responders will be recognized for their service to our community and country. Learn more about many of them here.
“Our staff, students and alumni take great pride in honoring and supporting various military members, veterans and local responders every chance we have, and this event gives us an opportunity to show them how thankful we are for everything they do. This is a chance for us to celebrate and pay tribute to the men and women who embody the definition of heroes by putting themselves first to protect and serve this great country.”
– Jeremy Foley, Athletics Director
Served in the Army National Guard for 5 years while attending the University of Florida. Basic Training in Fort Sill, OK and Officer Candidate School at Camp Blanding in Starke.
US Army SGT Andrew Smith of the 82nd Airborne Division was severely injured on his first deployment to Afghanistan on March 8th, 2012, just 2 months after being married to his wife Tori Smith. While on patrol, Andrew stepped on a pressure plate, triggering an estimated 10 pound IED. The explosion hurled Andrew into the air, resulting in the loss of his left leg below the knee and his right leg above the knee, as well as causing severe abdominal injury. For over 20 months, Andrew recovered at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, enduring many surgeries with Tori by his side. In the face of adversity, Andrew has persevered and achieved many of his personal goals. Throughout the Smith’s time at the hospital, they had unwavering support from their community. Andrew and his wife were able to return home to Chattanooga, TN in July of 2013.
A native of Navarre, Ohio, he enlisted in the United States Marines in August 1942. He is a World War II veteran, among the group that fought against fascism and genocide in Europe and Japan’s imperialism in the Pacific. Bud traveled to Bougainville Island, Guam, and Iwo Jima within his three years of battle. He returned home in May 1945, and retired in 1986. To this day, Bud stands by the notion that “[he] is no hero. The heroes are still there.”
Bob was born in Union, South Carolina in 1921. He attended the University of South Carolina, graduating in 1943. A member of the first class of Naval ROTC, he was commissioned an Ensign and immediately placed on active duty. After a brief period of training in Norfolk, he was transferred to San Francisco to serve aboard a new destroyer named The Sullivans in honor of the five brothers who were killed when their ship, The Juneau, was torpedoed off Guadalcanal in 1942. His duty consisted of island-hopping in route to Japan, supporting other troops and military vehicles. Once Iwo Jima and Okinawa were secured, they returned to Mare Island Naval Ship Yard for re-conditioning in preparation for landings in Japan. He was home, on leave, when the bombs were dropped and the War was over.
Veteran of the US Army Infantry during the Korean War. Volunteered for duty in Korea and arrived in Korea in 1951 and was assigned as a replacement rifleman in a rifle company in the 35th Infantry Regiment, an element of the 25th Infantry Division. Subsequently was promoted to Squad Leader and later to Platoon Sergeant. Was involved in combat action until the signing of the cease fire in July 1953.
Decorations and awards include theater ribbons and unit citations together with the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge), two Bronze Stars for valor and the Republic of Korea Ambassador For Peace medal.
W. Conrad Dutton
U. S. Navy Combat WW II Air Crewman, VPB 54th “Black Cat” Squadron; 1943 – 1945. Served in the Pacific theatre and took part as a Black Cat combat airman in the Battles of Peleliu and Leyte. Following the Battle of Leyte, his Black Cat flight unit was assigned to the USS ORCA AVP-49 and while assigned to the USS ORCA, took part in the Battle of Luzon. While on board the USS ORCA, the ship was attacked by five Japanese kamikaze. The ship was hit by one kamikaze. The ship suffered no casualties but several crew members were wounded in the attack. The ORCA was awarded three battle stars for its service in WW II including the Presidential Unit Citation and Commendation. He was personally awarded the Atlantic-Meridian campaign medal for his earlier Air Crewman service while in the Atlantic theatre and was awarded combat air crewman wings with three battle stars for his service in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre. After WW II, he earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees from the University of Florida (1951 and 1976 ). He is a two-sport UF letterman having lettered in Football as a member of UF’s Golden Era football teams of 1946, 1947 and 1948, playing both ways on the offensive and defensive lines, and lettered in Boxing. In addition, he was a member of the UF varsity squads for basketball and baseball. He is presently a member of UF’s “F” Club and Gator Boosters.
Donald Raby enlisted into United States Coast Guard in 2003. Soon after, he attended Marine Science Technician A-school and became a MST. After reaching the rank of E-6 he attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Coast Guard.
First Responders Alachua County Fire Rescue
Lieutenant Mark Wright
Lt Wright is a 29 year employee with Alachua County Fire Rescue. Lt Wright has chaired numerous committees within the organization and continues to lead by example. He has maintained a position educating our newly hired employees as well.
Rescue Lieutenant Robert Ward
Lt Ward has been a dedicated employee of Fire Rescue since 1993. Over the years Lt Ward has served as a mentor to the numerous EMT and paramedic students coming through both local colleges. Lt Ward has always exemplified what it means to serve his community.
First Responders Alachua County Sheriff’s Office
D/S Carlos Julio-Lima
D/S Julio-Lima enlisted in the US Army on February 26, 2002. He completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson South Carolina and attended Individual Advanced Training at Fort Eustis Virgina. He has served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 at Camp Cooke, Al Taji, Iraq. He also served in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009-2010 at Bagram Airbase Bagram, Afghanistan and in 2013 at FOB Ghazni, Ghazni, Afghanistan.
D/S Julio-Lima began his career at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office in August of 2008. He served in the Patrol Division from 2008 to 2012 and the Court Security Bureau from 2012 to present. He is currently serving as a Staff Sergeant with the 399th Transportation Detachment in Gainesville, Florida.
First Responders Gainesville Police Department
Officer Gerald Core
Prior to becoming a police officer, Officer Core served in the U.S. Army and FL National Guard from 1998-2007. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne Infantry as a 240 Bravo Machine Gunner and Team Leader, and later became a Team Leader for a rifle squad. From 2003-2004, he served as an Infantryman during the initial invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He provided disaster relief for the numerous hurricanes that devastated Florida during the mid-2000s. For the past two years he has served as a Police Officer with the Gainesville Police Department and is currently a member of the SWAT team.
Officer Travis Stephens
Officer Stephens is married to his wife Lucy and has 5 children. He was prior Army active duty, and is currently a Tech Sgt in the Air Force Reserves, 325th Security Forces Squadron (military police). He is also a RAVEN (Global Fly Away Security Team). He has served in Afghanistan and Korea, and has been a GPD officer for 3.5 years. Currently a member of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU), and Honor Guard.
First Responders Gainesville Fire Rescue
Captain Dan Smith
Captain Smith has been in the fire service for 23 years and a paramedic for 32 years. In his tenure with GFR, he has been involved with the hazardous materials team 22.5 years. He is a member of the state emergency response commission’s training task force and the regional domestic security task force. He is an instructor of hazardous materials response and teach for the North Central Florida Emergency Planning Council and the Northeast Florida Regional Council. He has also served for years on Hazmat team serving UF during football games.
Lt. Willie “Ace” Saulsberry
Lieutenant Saulsberry has served for 26 years in the Fire Service, including 25 with the City of Gainesville. His duties include Fire Lieutenant, Paramedic, and Hazardous Materials Technician. He is from Jacob City, Florida, married 23 years to his wife Florence, and has two daughters, Kelsey and Cailynn. He has served for years on Hazmat team serving UF during football games.
First Responders Florida Highway Patrol
Trooper Michael Hathcock
Trooper Michael Hathcock is a 7 year veteran with the FHP. He resides in and patrols Alachua County. Mike is well known for his friendly personality and his unselfish willingness to help others.
Corporal Lena Ward
Master Corporal Ward has served more than 24 years with the Florida Highway Patrol. She is a Senior Traffic Homicide Investigator and has served as Lead Investigator in over 115 fatality investigations. Cpl. Ward is married to Alachua County Fire Rescue Paramedic/Firefighter Robbie Ward and has 3 children. Her hobbies are scuba diving and baking. Corporal Ward was born and raised in the Gainesville, Florida area having graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1988.
First Responders University Police Department
Officer S. Gerald Williams
Officer Gerald Williams has been a law enforcement officer for approximately 3 years with the University of Florida Police Department. Prior to starting his law enforcement carrier, he attended Santa Fe College, where he served as Student Body President. Officer Williams’s current assignment at UFPD is in the Community Services Division. Officer Williams also serves as a certified RAD instructor, and Bike officer for UFPD. During Officer Williams Short law enforcement carrier he has received a Gainesville Police Department Police Service Award, and Three University of Florida Police Department Chief’s Letter of Commendation.
Officer Drew Moore
Officer Moore has been a law enforcement officer for over 10 years and is a graduate from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. Prior to his current position of Reserve Officer with UFPD, he served as a detective in the special victims unit with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office where he investigated and taught in the areas of crimes against children and domestic violence. Officer Moore is also currently a second year law student at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Military Donation Drive
Before Florida plays Florida Atlantic, stop by Fan Fest outside The Swamp and donate supplies to our troops overseas. The Military Support Group of Alachua County will have a tent set up collecting your donations. 100% of donations will be shipped to our service men and women currently serving overseas. Give back to the brave Americans who give it their all for our country.
Since 2003, The Military Support Group of Alachua County has used donated supplies to mail over 12,000 care packages to our troops. The deployed troops often write back expressing their gratitude for receiving care packages. Here are a few thank you notes the Military Support Group has received over the years from troops:
“Everything you do means so very much to us over here. I still can't get over the smiles on my soldiers faces when they saw all the goodies that you all sent over here.”
“It is obvious that you put a lot of time into the package you sent and I cannot express how much it means to me and everyone here that there are people back in our home country that care enough to do these sorts of things, particularly because it is not required of them.”
“I cannot express how much it means to know that someone, whose sole motivation is kindness, will go out of their way to let the military men and women know you appreciate the sacrifices they make.”
To show support of the armed forces, Gators can donate their tickets to any military personnel, veterans or first responders through the Gator Ticket Bank. If you have any questions please contact Julie Hackney.
Thank you to the fans who have donated 25 or more tickets!
- Veteran Tickets Foundation
- Processing Point
- David Retamozo
- Circulatory Services, Inc.
- Dave Hansen
- Gordon & Candy Swaggerty
- Daniels Brothers, Inc.
- Camille Borden
- Jay Van Dyke
- Worth Advertising Group, Inc.
- AKEA, Inc.
- Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Valdes
- Info-Tech, Inc.
- American Legion Auxiliary Unit 273
Javan join the Florida Army National Guard in December 2008. He deployed in 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He was the 2014 Soldier of the Year for 1st Battalion 124 Infantry Regiment, 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee at Santa Fe College, and is currently a senior in FYCS and Army ROTC program. Brown plans on continuing his service in the Florida Guard as a commissioned officer.
I was active duty in the Army for 4 1/2 years at Ft. Hood. I was deployed to Iraq from November 2007 to January 2009. I was also in the Army Reserves for 4 years. I am current studying Food and Resource Economics at UF.
Ken Cobb began his military career in the Marine Corps in 1981 as a combat engineer. In 1989 he enlisted in the Florida Air National Guard. He has deployed four times in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraq Freedom and is still serving today. Ken is a junior Architecture major.
Chip enlisted in 1997 and embarked on his career as a Nuclear Electricians Mate. Upon completing Nuclear power training he was selected for officer training and attended Jacksonville University on a ROTC scholarship.He graduated with a Bachelors of International Business degree and was commissioned as an Ensign in 2005. While stationed on the USS Princeton (CG 59) and USS Ashland (LSD 48) he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom 3 separate times.Chip was injured and medically retired in May 2012 having attained the rank of Lieutenant. Chip is now enrolled as a Master of International Business student at the University of Florida and will graduate in Spring 2016.
SSgt Desorcy served 8 years in the Air Force as a communications electronics technician, where he deployed overseas in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Justin is now a senior electrical engineering student at the University of Florida.
US Army combat veteran, enlisted as a Signals Intelligence Analyst and Arabic Cryptologic Linguist after graduating from the University of Florida. She deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division in Logar and Wardak provinces in Afghanistan. She has returned to UF as a graduate student to earn a Master of Science in Construction Management.
Served 4 years in the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, NY, and deployed to the Kunar Province in Afghanistan. Victor is currently a junior sociology major.
Served in the Air Force for 4 years as an avionics technician on C-5 aircraft. Deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently a senior pursuing a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering.
Native Floridian.Served four years in the Marine Corps.Active in the initial invasion of Iraq, Operation Vigilant Resolve, and Operation Phantom Fury. As an undergraduate, double majored in mathematics and sociology. Currently working on master’s degree in soil and water science.
Chris Mink is a third year mechanical engineering student that served in the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2012. He served for four years as helicopter engine mechanic and test cell operator and spent two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
Served 6 years as an active duty infantry officer in the U.S. Army.He has been stationed at Fort Carson, CO and Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.He deployed to the Kunar Province, Afghanistan in 2010 and Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan where he received a Purple in 2012.He is now enrolled in the Post baccalaureate masters program for Computer Science and applying to the MBA program at UF.
Serves in the Army National Guard since 2010 as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Computer Engineering at the University of Florida.
Lance Corporal Shawn Renaud served from 2008 to 2012 as an Administrative Specialist with the United States Marine Corps.Traveling to Okinawa, Japan and also to Thailand and Korea to work side by side with the Royal Thai and Korean Marines.Returning back to Parris Island, South Carolina she was personally in charge of the welfare for all recruits flying in for boot camp. She has traveled all the way from Detroit Michigan to study Architecture as a Florida Gator.
Served in the Army for 6 years as an infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Infantry Division. Deployed to Afghanistan 3 times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering.
Served 4 years as a Combat Engineer in the Marine Corps. Two combat tours to Afghanistan and one deployment aboard USS New Orleans LPD-18. Earned an Associate's degree at Pensacola State College and currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at University of Florida.
Ken served in the U.S. Army as Heavy Equipment Operator and Combat Engineer. He was stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska for three years where he held the position of mobile blade team leader.He graduated from the University of Florida with his Bachelor’s Degree in 2012 and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in urban and regional planning here at UF.
Served 4 years as a Petty Officer 3rd Class in the United States Navy. He was stationed on the Aircraft Carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, where he was deployed for three tours in the Middle East. He is a junior studying Health Science and is proud to be a Gator.
Captain Dennis Halleran
Captain Dennis Halleran is an Active Duty United States Army Infantry officer. He has served in the Army for eight years and has deployed both to Iraq and Afghanistan. His leadership positions include Platoon Leader for an Infantry Riffle company, Mortar Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Company Commander. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Florida.
LT Nicholas Novak
LT Novak was born and raised outside of Cleveland, Ohio. His sea tours include Ordnance Officer in USS RUSSELL (DDG 59) and Navigator in USS HALSEY (DDG 97). He is currently stationed at the University of Florida as an Assistant Professor of Naval Science while also pursuing a MBA.
SFC Dustin Ortagus
Sergeant First Class Dustin Ortagus is an Active Duty United States Army Infantry Non Commissioned Officer. He has served in the Army for 14 years in multiple leadership position from Team Leader, Squad Leader and Platoon Sergeant. He has deployed to Iraq on three different tours and once to Afghanistan. He is currently serving as a Military Science Instructor at the ROTC program for the University of Florida.
Air Force ROTC
TSgt Matthew Garner
Technical Sergeant Matthew B. Garner, currently serving as Non-Commissioned Officer-In-Charge, Cadet Personnel, Detachment 150, AFROTC at the University of Florida. He has served on active duty for the United States Air Force for over 15 years and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Major JoAnna Höfle
Major JoAnna E. Höfle is an alumna of the University of Florida where she earned a BS degree in Geology. During her 17 years of service in the USAF she’s served in Space Ops, Missiles Ops and Joint Planning Ops; earned her MS Degree in Space Studies; and served across 5 of the 6 Combatant Commands. She is proud to return to UF and teach the newest AF cadets as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies.