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Florida Gators - Saluting Those Who Serve

February 19-20 Gator Basketball

  • Men’s Basketball vs. Auburn at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 19
  • Women’s Basketball vs. Missouri at 7 pm on Thursday, February 20

As a part of Saluting Those Who Serve, throughout the games 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 on this page.

 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

Recognized Feb. 19

Don SherryDon Sherry

  • Served 10 years in the Air Force
  • Stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany as a Processing Specialist
  • Helped prevent World War III by hastening the buildup of troops at three embarkation points in Europe, countering the 1 million Russian troops along the border between East and West Germany
  • Discharged from Active Duty in 1957 at rank of Airman First Class
  • Veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War

General Paul AlbrittonGeneral Paul Albritton

  • Throughout his time inside the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., he served as the Deputy Director for long-range planning, Chief of the Fighter Division and the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, Plans and Readiness for the Air Force
  • Has served as a base commander in Germany and as an instructor pilot in Saudi Arabia
  • A proud graduate of the University of Florida and later earned an advanced management degree from Harvard
  • Has recorded over 3,800 hours of flying time in 13 different aircrafts, including combat missions in Southeast Asia
  • The Noncommissioned Officer Corps of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) awarded General Albrittion the “Order of the Sword”, making him the second person within USAFE to ever receive this honor

Weldon “Doc” TaylorWeldon “Doc” Taylor

  • Served for the US Army in Vietnam as a Combat Medic
  • Proudest accomplishment includes saving the lives of so many fellow soldiers who sacrificed everything they had for our country and were in need of immediate medical attention
  • Awarded 4 Bronze Stars for valor and the Purple Heart

Admiral Richard LandoltAdmiral Richard Landolt

  • Served as a Warfare Officer for the US Navy
  • Commanded five different ships throughout his career, including a mine sweeping ship in the Middle East and the Amphibious Squadron in Japan which provided disaster relief during the earthquake and tsunami of 2011
  • Recently served as the Director of Operations for US Africa Command and led forces that assisted French allies in Mali and was involved in disrupting terrorist networks in Northern Africa and Somalia
  • Retired on February 1st after a 32 year career in the Navy and is a proud graduate of the University of Florida

Captain Jonathan PrudenCaptain Jonathan Pruden

  • Served in the Army during Iraq with the 3-7 Infrantry, 3rd Infantry Division
  • Wounded in combat and has subsequently endured over 20 surgeries, including the amputation of his right leg below the knee
  • Awards include the Combat infantry badge and the Purple Heart
  • Proud University of Florida graduate and currently serves as a peer mentor to other veterans at the Gainesville Fisher House, Wounded Warrior Project and other local veteran organizations

 Military Donation Drive

As part of Florida Basketball’s Saluting Those Who Serve Games, Gator fans are encouraged to donate supplies to our troops overseas. The Military Support Group of Alachua County will have a tables set up outside and inside the Stephen C O’Connell Center 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.”

Recognized Feb. 20

John Fernandez

  • Served in the Marines as an infantryman in Iraq
  • Combat wounded veteran who suffered complete lower body paralysis and was told he would never run again
  • Has trained to proof doctors wrong and now competes on UF’s TriGator triathlon team and is set to compete in his first Ironman event this April in Puerto Rico
  • Currently a Business Economics student at the University of Florida and hopes to start his own non-profit organization focused on financial freedom and time management for veterans

Roseanna PowersRoseanna Powers

  • Served in the Marine Corps from 2000-2008 as a Field Wireman/Switchboard Operator
  • Deployed to Kuwait in 2003 with Squadron-28
  • Member of the All-Marine Women’s Soccer Team
  • After service, attended and graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management
  • Currently works for the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System

Terry TurnerTerry Turner

  • Served in the Army as a member of the 1st Infantry Division from 1980-1983
  • After her discharge, Terri worked for the US Department of Defense
  • Entering her 27th year of employment at the Gainesville VA Medical Center and currently works with returning combat Veterans
  • Provides monthly VA resource support at the University of Florida Collegiate Veterans Success Center
  • Was named the VA Employee of the Year by the Alachua county Veterans Advisory Board

Gator Student-Athletes & CoachesMilitary and First Responder Ties

Student-Athlete/Coach Sport Relative Service
Michael Frazier ll Men's Basketball Michael Frazier (Father)  Served in the Army during Persian Gulf War
Jacob Kurtz Men's Basketball Henry Cuzydlo (Grandfather) Served as a Marine in the Korean War
Head Coach Billy Donovan Men's Basketball Bill Donovan (Father) Served in the Army
Casey Prather Men's Basketball Brittany Prather (Sister) Serves in the National Guard
Assistant Coach Matt McCall Men's Basketball Wayne McCall (Father), Eddie Rios (Father-in-law), Ray Wasson (Grandfather), Wayne and Catherine McCall (Grandparents) Wayne-Served in the Army, Eddie-Served in the Army, Ray-Served in the Navy, Wayne and Catherine-Both served in the Navy 
Raphael Andrades Football Uncle, Aunt Army
Jeremy Brown Football Father Army
Mack Brown Football Uncle Navy
Jarrad Davis Football Father Army
Jacob Diamond Football Father Air Force
Jeff Driskel Football Father Navy
Dominique Easley Football Father Army
Jabari Gorman Football Brother Army
Christopher Maignan Football Cousin Marine/Navy
A.J. Mobley Football Himself Served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
Loucheiz Purifoy Football Kamisha Shannon (Sister) Kamisha-Served in the Army
Ian Silberman Football Stephanie (Mother), Warren (Father) Stephanie-Served in the Air Force, Warren-Served in the Navy
Max Staver Football Cousin Air Force
Michael Taylor Football Grandfather Army
Colin Thompson Football Uncle Navy
John Townsend Football Grandfather Army
Frankie Velez Football Dr. Jose Velez (Father) Was an Army Doctor stationed in Ft. Benning, Ga.
Katie Mitchell Golf Grandfather  Served in Vietnam War
Emily Glaser Golf Grandfather  Served in Air Force during World War II
Bridgette & Mackenzie Caquatto Gymnastics Donald Johnston (Grandfather), Joseph Caquatto (Grandfather) Donald-Fought in Korean War, Joseph-Fought in World War II
Morgan Frazier Gymnastics Edwin Hotz (Grandfather) Served in the Army
Kytra Hunter Gymnastics Forrest Hunter (Father) Served in Army for 26 years
Lauren Rose Gymnastics John Suhar (Grandfather), Al Rose  John-Served in the Army in the World War II, Al-Served in Army in World War II
Jamie Shisler Gymnastics Daniel Wells (Grandfather) Served in Army
Bridget Sloan Gymnastics Grover Sloan (Grandfather), Jack Cosgrave (Grandfather) Grover-Served in Army, Jack-Served in Army
Rachel Spicer Gymnastics Dale Spicer (Grandfather) Served in the Korean War
Kiersten Wang Gymnastics Todd Wang (Father) Served in the Army
Taylor Burke Soccer Arther Carey Sams (Grandfather), James Francis Burke (Grandfather) Arthur-Served in Korean War, James-Served in World War II
Annie Bobbitt Soccer Lewis Bobbitt (Father) Served in the Air Force
Head Coach Becky Burleigh Soccer Ron Burleigh (Father), Robbie (Brother) Ron-Served in the Army, Robbie-Served in the Navy
Associate Head Coach Victor Campbell Soccer William D. Campbell (Father)  Served in Army
Claire Falknor Soccer Jim Falknor (Grandfather) Served in the Korean War
Karina Gutsche Soccer John Berrios (Grandfather), Sharon Thompson (Grandmother) John-Served in the Marines, Sharon-Served in the Navy
Volunteer Coach Jason Hamilton Soccer Robert Hamilton (Father), Ralph Nelson (Father-in-Law) Robert-Served in Marine Corp, Ralph-Served in Army
Assistant Coach Alan Kirkup Soccer Richard Kirkup (Grandfather) Wounded in World War II battle serving in Army
Haley Reeb Soccer John Burton (Grandfather), Robert Jay Reeb (Grandfather) John-Served in Army, Robert-Served in Army
Maggie Rodgers Soccer Casey Rodgers (Mother), Bob Rodgers (Grandfather) Casey-Served in Army, Bob-Served in World War II and survived Pearl Harbor
Brooke Sharp Soccer Brett Sharp (Father) Is a police officer
Lauren Silver Soccer Gary Silver (Father) Served in the Air Force
Brooke & Lauren Smith Soccer Al Smith (Grandfather), William Hardaway Jr. (Grandfather), William Hardaway III (Cousin) Al-Was a Navy pilot, William Jr.-Served in Army, William III-Served in the Marines
Annie Speese Soccer Philip Payne III (Uncle), Ann Payne (Grandmother), Richard Blizzard (Uncle), Philip Payne II Philip III-Served in Navy, Ann-Served in Navy, Richard-Served in Navy, Philip II-Served in Navy
Valerie Tysinger Soccer Russell Tysinger (Father), Patrick Tysinger (Brother), Rip Armstrong (Grandfather), Jeff Tysinger (Uncle) Russell-Served in the Marines, Patrick-Currently in the Navy, Rip-Served in the Air Force, Jeff-Served in the Army
Coach Gregg Troy Swimming and Diving Geoffrey (Son) Serves in the United States Marines
Coach Donnie Craine Swimming and Diving Keith (Son)  Serves as a major in the U.S. Air Force
Kayla Lewis Women's Basketball Steven Rhone Jr. (Cousin), Nicholas Allen (Cousin) Steven-Serves in the Navy, Nicholas-Serves in the Navy
Donnie Lee Jr. Track & Field Linda Lee (Mother), Donnie Lee, Sr. (Father), Shannon Lee (Brother), Cedric Lee (Brother) Linda-Is a captain in the Army, Donnie-Is a retired Sergeant Major, Shannon-Is a Sergeant First class, Cedric-Is a Warrant Officer 3
Shelby Davidson Track & Field Steve Davidson (Father), Franklin Hall (Grandfather) Steve-Was a Colonel in the United States Air Force, Franklin-Was a Colonel in the United States Air Force
Stephanie Strasser Track & Field Thompson (Grandfather), Strasser (Grandfather) Thompson-Served in WWII, Strasser-Was a doctor, speciality radiologist, in the Army during the Korean War
Erin Tucker Track & Field Samuel Sams (Father-in-Law), Wheeler Tucker, Jr. (Uncle), Sharif Tucker (Cousin), Jamik Geiger (Cousin), Yadullah Tucker (Cousin), Darren Crawford (Brother-in-Law), Wheeler Tucker, Sr. (Grandfather), William Glenn (Uncle) Samuel-Is retired US Air Force Corporal and WWII veteran, Wheeler-Is retired US Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, Sharif-Honorable Discharge US Marine Corp. Corporal, Jamik-Is currently in US Air Force Reserves, Yadullah-Honorable Discharge US Army, Darren-Is retired US Army Sergeant, Wheeler-Served in the US Army, William-Served in the Navy
Caitlin Brown Track & Field Keith Benson (Boyfriend) Was Sergeant in U.S. Marine Corps, Honorably Discharged 2008
Sammi Burgess Lacrosse Uncles, Cousins  Have served in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy
Cara Canington Lacrosse Grandfather Served in the military during World War II
Sam Darcangelo Lacrosse Jaret (Brother) Is at the Naval Academy
Kelsey Hart Lacrosse Michael (Father), Uncle  Michael-New York City Fireman, Uncle-New York City Fireman
Lauren Lea Lacrosse Grandfather  Served in the military
Darcy Messina Lacrosse John (Father) Was a FDNY firefighter for 24 years
Carly Ross Lacrosse Grandfather, Uncles and Cousins Grandfather-Police officer, Uncles and Cousins-Firefighters, Cousin-Served in Army
Jackie Rupp Lacrosse Robert (Father), Sarah Beth (Sister), Uncle, Two cousins  Robert-Naval Intelligence, Sarah-Is at flight school in the Navy, Uncle-Served as a pilot in the Marines, Cousins-Currently serving in the Marines
Sally Polhamus Volleyball Richard Schulte (Father) Retired from Navy
Denise Belcher Volleyball Dennis Belcher (Father) Serves in the Army
Mary Wise Volleyball Brad Fischl (Nephew) Is an officer in the Army
Dana Backlund Volleyball Al Gunnel (Great-Uncle), Erik Backlund (Brother), Ingabritt Backlund (Sister) Al-Was a green beret, Erik-Is in the 101st Airborne of the Army, Ingabritt-Serves in the Air Force as a nurse
Taylor Unroe Volleyball Paul Smith (Cousin), Ronnie (Boyfriend) Paul-Serves in the Army, Ronnie-Is an Iraqi veteran and is now in the National Guard
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