OGDEN – The Ogden Raptors were decked out in their camouflage uniforms during their game against the Helena Brewers in honor of the local community members serving in the military.
With Col. Ronald Jolly Sr., commander of the 75th Air Base Wing at Hill Air Force Base, throwing out the first pitch, and the swearing in of 23 new recruits between the third and fourth innings, it was not a normal Raptors game the evening of Aug. 8, but that’s the way the president of the Raptors, Dave Baggott, likes it. He’s been owner of the Raptors for 21 years, and has spent 20 of those years recognizing the military each year during one of their games.
“It’s important for us to do this for our military because it’s one facet of doing things to give back to the community, and what better way to show support to those who serve and sacrifice than with a baseball game,” said Baggott.
Hill Air Force Base military personnel received free tickets to the game, and Baggott says the team is pleased and honored to support them, having heard that 2,000 people came into the game using the free tickets.
Jolly said he appreciated the support given to the military.
“It’s not just a baseball game, though, it is about being in front of the community that provides so much support for our military members,” said Jolly.
Ingrid Schmidt of Clinton, who works on base in the 414th Supply Chain Management Squadron, remembers a time when that wasn’t always the case.
“You just think back to the ’60s when the community didn’t always honor the military, so it’s nice to see that we’ve come around a long ways,” said Schmidt, who has lived overseas for her husband’s military assignments. “It becomes more real over there. We are glad to be a part of protecting our country.”
Schmidt even got into the action at the game during one of the innings by participating in a table setting competition against her husband, who is retired from the military. Schmidt proudly admitted winning, earning herself a free backpack filled with Air Force paraphernalia.
The crowning event of the evening was when the 23 recruits marched their way out of the first base gate onto the field and Jolly swore them into the U.S. Air Force with the oath of enlistment, with a resounding roar of cheers and applause from the audience at its conclusion.
Master Sgt. Christopher Kisse says they like to perform the oath of enlistment at public venues because it gets them out in the community. “One percent of the population joins the Air Force, and this is the one percent for this area that have signed up, and we want the community to see them and honor them for what they are doing,” Kisse said.
One of the recruits, Andrew Malcolm of Nibley, thought it was a unique experience to be sworn in at the baseball game.
“This is really inspiring for everyone else to be more patriotic.”