Air Force flyover to be included in ceremony prior to home finale doubleheader against East Texas Baptist

Howard Payne baseball’s final home series against East Texas Baptist the weekend of April 21-22 will feature a little more than just a Senior Day ceremony as the Yellow Jackets look to honor our nation’s veterans.

A Military Appreciation Day event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 22 at Don Shepard Park

“In November, Coach (Stephen)Lynn and I were trying to think of different events that could be done with the baseball team,” assistant coach Robert Anders said. “While on a recruiting trip to Shreveport, we both collaborated and agreed on a Military Appreciation Day. So after throwing some ideas around, he asked me to take over this event and get this thing organized. ”

An event that originally started small began to explode after one of the thought-to-be minor details led to some big requirements.

“We requested and were approved for a flyover at the game,” Anders said. “The Air Force said, ‘We want to be able to support this, but is there any more to this event? It just needs to be big.’ So they sent us a template of ideas and we have taken some of those and made this into a great day for the veterans and fans.”

This isn’t just something that the coaching staff is involved with; the players are getting into this day of appreciation as well. The new styled hats the team will be wearing for this game will have a special addition on each one, a unit patch to honor someone they know who has served our nation.

Anders said, “We got all our players together and requested that they fill out a notecard with the name of someone they know who has served, the branch, years served, any wars or conflicts they were involved in, and the unit they served in.

“We then went to an Army Navy surplus store in Dallas with the list and got the patch for each of those specific units which are actually getting embroidered on our new hats right now.”

The idea is not something that came out of the clear blue, either. The military is held very close to the hearts of the members of the coaching staff here at Howard Payne. Anders himself was born on a military base at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina and his father served 26 years in the Marine Corps. Lynn’s stepfather served in Vietnam, student assistant Boardman Adams’ god parent was enlisted in the Air Force, pitching coach Jerry Don Gleaton’s father served in the Army during World War II, and graduate assistant John Elmore had a grandfather in WWII as well.

“It’s important to us, but it’s important to the community as well with Camp Bowie right around the corner,” Anders said. “We appreciate the military. It’s one of those things where, sometimes you don’t appreciate them enough until there’s a war, or something happens and you see them actively supporting us, or actively volunteering to give their lives for us. So we just want to do the best we can to give back to these men and women.”

There is going to be a lot going on within this event. including a free meal provided for all veterans and active military who attend. There will be a pre-game ceremony to honor those who have served both past and present, recruiting booths will be set up including the Marine Corps Humvee and trailer, and the cherry on top of course is the military fly over which has been approved by the Air Force. Those are just a handful of the fun that will be going on that afternoon.

“We are still in negotiations with a few different Air Force bases for the flyover,” Anders said. “Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and also Dyess out of Abilene to see if we can get a fighter jet wing to support this. There’s been some pretty good conversations, but the last step is just getting the base to sign off on it with their support.”

To RSVP for the ceremony and lunch please contact Robert Anders via cell phone at (972) 322-4116 or email at RAnders@hputx.edu.