DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For the last 15 years, the Dallas Mavericks have made it a point to honor our nations heroes with a poignant and powerful sight at one of their November home games.
More than 100 wounded warrior soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard and Brooke Army Medical Center attended the Mavs game Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.
Where they sat, is another story. Every single hero sat courtside. Yes, courtside. The Mr. Big seats. The expensive seats.
Those seats are not courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks though. They are donated by the very seat holders themselves.
Think of the power of that kind gesture. More than 100 season ticket holders, handing out their amazing seats, for our amazing heroes.
But this day and night of honor wasn’t just about the game.
It all began with a private charter flight arranged by American Airlines, with an entirely volunteer crew on board the flight.
From the pilots up front, to the flight attendants in the back. They gave up their day off, to work this flight for nothing more than the chance to say thank you themselves, to the hero’s who filled the seats.
AA flight attendant Carolyn Rodriguez told CBS 11, “personally, i have a lot of family members who have been in the military and it means so much to me”.
Departure from San Antonio was loud. There was a wonderful spread for the soldiers, music and a collective salute as they walked a gauntlet of thankful American’s holding flags to board the flight to DFW.
While airborne, a crew member came over the public address system, made an announcement and then launched into song. Lean on me. In an instant, the entire plane was singing.
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, i’ll help you carry on.”
It may have been just singing to many of these men and women, but on the outside looking in, it’s testament to who they all are. If you’re struggling, I will be there. I will have your back. No man left behind.
Landing at DFW Airport was as exhilarating as the departure from San Antonio. It started with the DFW Airport firefighters welcoming the plane as it taxied in, with a water canon salute.
Then came the heroes’ welcome at the gate when the plane pulled in!
It was then off to Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse in Dallas for dinner, and then over to the American Airlines Center for their moment in the spotlight.
They were hosted and honored at the game Wednesday night. A momentary bright spot in the endless weeks of rehabilitation so many of them are going through right now.
Private First Class Nathanael Hanna of Saginaw was injured in a parachuting accident on duty.
He told CBS 11, “Rehab was about six months of learning how to walk again. Getting back on my own feet, and building that confidence to be normal so to speak, with a lot of metal in the leg and the injury”
For Staff Sgt. Kayshawn Porterfield, this special day, “gets me away from all the day to day treatment, and thinking about my injury. Just enjoying my night.”
And for the Mavericks staff, and all involved in making this amazing day happen, that’s their biggest wish as well.
For all these heroes to just enjoy their night. To put rehab and recovery aside, if only for a day.
So we can all celebrate you, who you are, and your sacrifice for all of us.