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April 28, 2014 at 1:09pm

Words & Photos: Seattle Mariners 13th annual Salute to Armed Forces

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza received a commemorative plaque by the Seattle Mariners in appreciation for the service of the U.S. Army. Members from all six branches received a plaque. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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The Seattle Mariners professional baseball team hosted its 13th annual Salute to Armed Forces event April 26 during a game against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.

The festivities kicked off an hour prior to the game, with a special pre-game program that honored U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military service supporting organizations.

"We feel strongly that it is appropriate and important to pay tribute to the men and women who serve our country in the military," said Seattle Mariners Director of Public Information Rebecca Hale.  "The biggest change over the years is how inclusive it has become to all the branches of the military, as well as veterans and disabled veterans groups now being represented. Our goal is to be as inclusive as we can be and to pay tribute to as many individuals and organizations as we can."

A member from each branch of the military - Army Staff Sgt. Rodney Greenway; Marine Corps Sgt. Ariel Hargave; Navy Master at Arms 1st Class Joseph Reyes; Air Force Reserve Maj. Marc Miller; Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Jason Gale; and Washington National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Fox - lined up along the baseline prior to the game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"It feels pretty good right now, knowing that I will be throwing out a first pitch," said Fox, who works with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment.  "It will be a little interesting, trying to throw a pitch in my service uniform, but I think I can get it accomplished."

>>> Col. William Krueger receives a commemorative plaque on behalf of the U.S. Air Force from the Seattle Mariners during the Salute to Armed Forces Night at Safeco on April 26. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Col. Jeremy Horn, Washington National Guard, receives a plaque from the Seattle Mariners. Photo credit: Gary Lott

This was just the beginning of a night dedicated to America's men and women in uniform.

The Mariners also presented officers from each of the U.S. military branches with a  commemorative plaque. Those receiving plaques were: Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, U.S. Army; Maj. Gen. David Berger, U.S. Marine Corps; Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, U.S. Navy; Col. William Krueger, U.S. Air Force; Capt. Matthew Miller, U.S. Coast Guard; and Col. Jeremy Horn, Washington National Guard, on behalf of Brig. Gen. John Tuohy.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord I Corps Army Band performed the National Anthem, and the colors were presented by the U.S. Joint Service Honor Guard. "Taps" was performed by Army Spc. Raymond Deleon, and during the 7th Inning Stretch, Tech. Sgt. Alfredo "Freddie" Garza of the U.S. Air Force Reserve performed "God Bless America."  

Along with the many military representatives on the field, organizations including the Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Washington State Guard and Reserve and the USO were introduced during the pregame ceremony.

Organization representatives handled the honorary duties of delivering the lineup cards and game balls.

Fans had the opportunity to support the USO by bidding on silent auction items such as autographed baseballs, game-used items and other memorabilia.

>>> Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Army I Corps Band performs the National Anthem before the Seattle Mariners played the Texas Rangers April 26. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Washington National Guardsmen Staff Sgt. Jason Fox, Bravo Company, 1-161, throws out one of the six ceremonial first pitches at the 13th Annual Mariners Salute to Armed Forces. Photo credit: Gary Lott

"Because we are located in a community that is close to so many military installations, we recognize that there are a lot of fans who are associated with the military," Hale said. Discounted tickets for the game - as low as $11 - were available to members of the military.

 "This year, we have made the discount a blanket 10 percent for all remaining games. So if you're coming from Whidbey, or Bremerton or JBLM, it might be a little easier to come on a Friday night or a weekend than a week night," Hale continued.  "Offering a discount is one small way we can show our appreciation to the men and women, and their families, who have served our nation."

Military personnel receive 10 percent off select main, terrace and view-level seats for all home game tickets on the Mariners 2014 home schedule. Tickets are available at mariners.com/tickets.

"I'm honored and blessed that I'm actually able to come out and do something like this to support my unit," Fox said. "A lot of us have been out on deployments overseas and seen some bad things. It's nice to see that [the Mariners] recognize what we have done, as well as what the service members in the past have done." 

SEE ALSO McChord security forces reservist sings during Mariners' Salture to Services game

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