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Florida Gators - Saluting Those Who Serve

Saturday, November 22Gator Football vs. Eastern Kentucky

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.

 Giving Thanks

“We are proud to honor the various military members, veterans and local responders this weekend. We are forever grateful for their commitment and loyalty – they are all true heroes who put themselves first to protect and serve this great country.”
– Jeremy Foley, Athletics Director

 Honorary Captain

James R. HillJames R. Hill

HMC(FMF) James R. Hill a Chief Petty Officer and a native of Silsbee Texas has served 20 years as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy.  He has successfully provided lifesaving medical care to over 3,000 critically injured Sailors, Marines and Army personnel serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  In 2008 he was injured while on patrol by a Suicide Vest attack. Since his return in 2009 he has gathered Sailors and marched a total of 78.6 miles during "Three" Boston Marathons in 2009, 2010 and 2011 raising over $27,000 for the Wounded Warrior Foundation to help his fellow brothers and sisters who have been wounded in combat.

Chief Hill's awards include 5 Navy Achievement Medals, 4 Navy Commendation Medals and Combat Action.


Frank TowersFrank Towers

  • He entered military service in late 1940 and served with the US Army for nearly 10 years, attaining the rank of Major. He served as a liaison officer with the 120th Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, in the Normandy Campaign. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Oakleaf cluster, the Purple Heart Medal with Oakleaf cluster and the European Theater of Operations Medal with 5 major Campaign battle stars, and a Presidential Unit Citation. He played in the liberation of a trainload of 2,500 Jews, destined for the gas chambers and crematorium, thus saving their lives.

Lionel CapoldoLionel Capoldo

  • Seaman First Class Lionel Capoldo served in the U.S. Navy for three years in both the European and Pacific theaters of war—including Iwo Jima and Okinawa. On June 6, 1944, Lionel served on a Royal British gunship, providing fire power from the forward magazine for small landing craft heading to Omaha Beach. He saw shelling duty off Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, followed by duty off Okinawa where, on April 16, he and his crewmates stood in frozen fear as they witnessed a shot-down kamikaze exploding near their ship and then the detached Zero’s engine come hurtling toward their ship and embedding itself in the hull. That kamikaze’s engine flying toward them and then hitting the ship was the most frightening part of the war.

Bill EbersoleBill Ebersole

  • Army-Air Force in WWII. He was a First lieutenant and flew p-51 mustang planes off the island of Iwo Jima during WWII to provide cover for B-29 bombers as they bombed Japan. His longest mission was 8 hours and 20 minutes, which was a record for WWII. Over Japan he strafed air fields, trains, and other targets of opportunity. Bill was awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross among many other metals. He earned two degrees from the University of Florida and was a publisher of the Gainesville Sun.

Tom HennesseyTom Hennessey

  • Dr. Hennessey served in the US Army for 28 years in successively responsible leadership positions and retired as a Colonel. He served two tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader and as a company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division. He fought in the battle of in 1968 to relieve the U.S. reigns engaged in that battle. His military awards and decorations include the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Joint Service Identification Badge  and the US, British, and Egyptian parachute badges.

Air Force

Captain Diana HalleranDiana Halleran

  • Captain Diana Halleran is an Intelligence Officer currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies. She is veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Jason SmithJason Smith

  • Major Jason D. Smith is a Nuclear Control Officer currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies and Operations Officer for ROTC Cadet Training.


Dennis HalleranDennis 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.

Dustin OrtagusDustin 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.

 Coast Guard

Andrew Hallock

  • Petty Officer Hallock enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 2009 and attended boot camp in Cape May, NJ. Soon after he entered the Yeoman striker program and became a YN. His duty stations include ANT New York, Bayonne, NJ, Sector Northern New England, Portland, ME, and Sector Jacksonville, FL.

Donald RabyDonald Raby

  • Donald Raby enlisted into United States Coast Guard in 2003. Soon after he attend 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.

William WinegarWilliam Winegar

  • Chief Winegar enlisted into United States Coast Guard in 2004 and attended boot Camp in Cape May, NJ. Soon after he attend Marine Science Technician A-school and became a MST. His duty stations include USCG Cutter RUSH, Honolulu, HI, MSO Jacksonville, Fl, Sector Key West, Fl, Sector Jacksonville, FL.

 Navy & Marine Corps.

Russell CookRussell Cook

  • Lieutenant Russell Cook graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. He is a submarine officer who spent 3 years aboard the USS ALBANY (SSN 753) stationed out of Norfolk, VA. Prior to serving as an Assistant Professor of Naval Science at the University of Florida NROTC unit, Lieutenant Cook completed a nine-month tour in Bahrain for Navy Central Command (NAVCENT).

Frank FerrellFrank Ferrell

  • LT Ferrell enlisted in the United States Navy in April 2004, completed training as a Nuclear Qualified Electronics Technician, and commissioned in May 2009. He completed Navy Nuclear Power Training and reported to USS GREENEVILLE (SSN 772) as a Submarine Officer. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Naval Science at the University of Florida NROTC pursuing a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering.

First Responders Alachua County Fire Rescue

Donovan JonesDonovan Jones

  • He joined the Army in 1987 served in  Panama, Mogadishu, Iraq and Afghanistan. Has been awarded a bronze star. He spent 10 years active duty and 10 years in the Florida National Guard. I retired as a Sargent First Class and have been serving as a Paramedic firefighter with Alachua County Fire Rescue for 13 years. 

First Responders Alachua County Sheriff’s Office

Lance YaegerLance Yaeger

  • Joined the Army on his 17th birthday and served with the 1st Ranger Battalion. Lance has served several years in combat with multiple tours to Iraq, a deployment to Haiti and a deployment to Afghanistan. He retired from the military in 2011 as a First Sergeant. Lance has worked as a Deputy Sheriff for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

First Responders Gainesville Police Department

Officer Patrick James HopkinsOfficer Patrick James Hopkins

  • Prior to becoming a law enforcement officer, he served as a paratrooper in the United States Army 82nd Airborne Division and deployed to Iraq as an infantry medic. Officer Hopkins has served as a patrol officer with GPD for two years.

First Responders Gainesville Fire Rescue

Ronald Thomas Jr.Ronald Thomas Jr.

  • Ronald Thomas Jr. is a 43 year old native of Gainesville Florida.  He has been with Gainesville Fire Rescue for 11 years and have recently been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He enjoys serving the citizens of Gainesville Florida.

First Responders Florida Highway Patrol

Shelia WalkerShelia Walker

  • Trooper Walker is a University of Florida Alumni. She graduated with  Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences in 1989. Trooper Walker joined the Florida Highway Patrol in 2000. During her 14 years of service she has also instructed our recruits and members in human diversity and defensive tactics. 

First Responders University Police Department

Seth ColsonSeth Colson

  • Sgt. Seth Colson is a 20 year law enforcement veteran currently assigned to the Special Events Division at UFPD. He served in the Army from 1990-1993 on active duty with the 1/10 Cavalry Combined Arms Task Force as an Infantryman, stationed in Fort Knox, KY.

 Military Donation Drive

Before Florida plays Eastern Kentucky, 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.”

 Donate Tickets

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.

 Student Veterans

Angelo CanevariAngelo Canevari

  • Has been serving as an indirect fire infantryman in the Army National Guard since 2006. He spent 2010 overseas in support of OIF and OND. Angelo is currently a senior anthropology major, minoring in religion and history.

Johnathan WhiteJohnathan White

  • 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.

Jared WalkerJared Walker

  • Enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2006. Fireman Walker served as an Engineman aboard the USS Carter Hall LSD 50. He is a fourth year College of Liberal Arts major studying history at the University of Florida.

Ryan DanielRyan Daniel

  • Served 6 years in the U.S. Navy on board USS Santa Fe SSN-763. First Class Machinist Mate qualified in submarines ( MM1(SS) ) Currently a Junior at UF, majoring in Civil Engineering

Alan FerryAlan Ferry

  • Served in the Air Force for 4 years. Deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently a junior pursuing a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Kristen BrantleyKristen Brantley

  • Served in the Army National Guard and has been serving since December 2008. Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with 2nd Battalion of the 124th Infantry Regiment from January 2010 until December 2010.

Donald A. GroveDonald A. Grove

  • Entered the Navy in 1979 Petty Officer Grove entered the Navy in April of 1979. He was selected as Instructor of the year for Naval station Mayport, and awarded two Navy/Marine corps commendation medal, four Navy and Marine corps achievement Medal. Donald is studying Recreation, parks and tourism and will graduate in December of 2014.

Christopher D. RiessChristopher D. Riess

  • Joined the Army sept 2009 went to fort knox, KY OSUT. Graduating as a 19D cavalry scout. Deployed to Afghanistan RC south Zahari District in operation OEF 10-11. University of Florida student fall 2014 at the college of Ag & life sciences.

Corporal Joseph DantonCorporal Joseph Danton

  • 3rd year English Major at UF. Served 4 years on Active duty in the Marine Corps. Marine Corps Martial Arts Black Belt Instructor and Multi-Mission Parachutist. Two Combat Deployments to Afghanistan for a total of 18 months.

Joey MartinezJoey Martinez

  • Joey was an Information Systems Technician Second Class in the United States Navy for 4years. Made two deployments while stationed onboard the USS WASP based in Norfolk, Virginia. A senior majoring in public relations and plans to graduate in the spring.

Scott SpauldingScott Spaulding

  • Enlisted February 2003, 4 combat tours, Personal Awards, 1 Purple Heart; 4 Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals with combat distinguishing device; Combat Action Ribbon; and he is most proud of Humanitarian Service Medal for Service in Haiti. Masters of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Florida.

Skye BarkleySkye Barkley

  • From 2006 to 2010 served as a United States Marine. Was a motor transport operator and a wrecker operator. Deployed to Iraq for a year. Was honorably discharged as a Corporal and started working towards my education in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at UF.

Casey CarrollCasey Carroll

  • She then served her country for 4 years in the United States Air Force, including serving 6 months in Afghanistan as a surgical technician. She is now in her senior year getting her bachelors of Science in Athletic Training.

Shawn RenaudShawn 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. Traveling all the way from Detroit Michigan to become a Florida Gator.

Danny MakowskyDanny Makowsky

  • Served 2003-2012. Fighter Aircraft Mechanic. Served in Okinawa, Iceland, U.A.E., Portugal, and multiple locations CONUS. Led aircraft recovery missions worldwide to repair and return fighters to American soil. Deployed to assist ground troops. Primary mission - Operation Noble Eagle-- direct protection of POTUS airspace wherever he traveled.

Kimberly MilletteKimberly Millette

  • Served in the United States Air Force for 6 years as an Intelligence Analyst. She received a Joint Service Commendation Medal for her support efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom, and will be graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor's in Business Administration Management.

Courtney WashingtonCourtney Washington

  • Served on active duty in the US Army from 2007-2011. She was stationed in South Korea from 2007-2008. Was a member of the last combat brigade in Iraq from 2009-2010, deployed to Camp Liberty just west of Baghdad. She served two years in the Army Reserves. She is graduating this semester with a BS degree in civil engineering.

William BetheaWilliam Bethea

  • Petty Officer 2nd class Aviation Warfare. Job: Aviation Machinist mate. Two deployments to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. Was responsible for leading a shift on the maintenance of 12 F/A-18F Aircraft. Served as Carrier Air Wing 8’s Aviation Mechanical Trouble Shooter in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2011.

Adam BlackAdam Black

  • Black served seven years active service in the Marine Corps including two tours in Iraq. In late 2011 Adam left the Marine Corps as a Sergeant to pursue a college education. Adam received his AA at Santa Fe College in 2013. Adam will be graduating May 2015 with a B.S. in Food and Resource Economics.

Adam DugganAdam Duggan

  • Served in the US Army as an infantry soldier for 5 years. Was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and received a Purple Heart. He is now working on his Bachelors in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a minor in International Studies at UF.

Collegiate Veteran Society - University of FloridaThe Collegiate Veterans Society at the University of Florida is a student group consisting of members with prior or current military service. The organization is dedicated to helping fellow collegiate veterans in the transition from military to college life and to enrich the community and the University of Florida with veteran sponsored and patriotic events.

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