Nov. 19, 2014
By Brad Muller | More Features
There is more than just a football game happening Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. The captive audience of 80,000 fans will have the opportunity to stand and applaud heroes from the battlefields who serve so the rest of us can enjoy, in peace, such things as games on football fields. South Carolina will honor service men and women as part of its annual celebration to salute our nation's military.
"It touches you," said retired United States Air Force Colonel Doug Senter, who played football for the Gamecocks from 1961-65. "It really does. I'm so glad they do that because the people who have been in the service have given a lot. It's a nice recognition for them, especially guys like Kyle Carpenter, our Medal of Honor recipient. Some of them have suffered a lot. It's a great salute to them and to me. I'm just glad to be part of it."
The 71-year-old has not only overseen the color guard for the annual salute to the Armed Forces at Williams-Brice Stadium for the last several years, but he is one of the military heroes who will be individually recognized at the game. Senter flew in the Vietnam War shortly after graduation as part of his 26 years in the military.
"We supported the special forces over there with air drops," Senter said. "Lots of short take-offs and landings and resupplying the guys on the ground. I saw a lot of bad things over there. We got shot at a lot. You just did it every day."
Senter earned numerous awards including the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Meritorious Service medals. After the war, he served as the squadron commander and director of operations at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Years later he would return to his alma mater as Professor of Air Science at South Carolina and oversaw the Air Force ROTC program from 1988 through 1991. He went on to Dutch Fork High School and directed the junior ROTC program for the next 16 years before retiring.
"Some of them have suffered a lot. It's a great salute to them and to me. I'm just glad to be part of it."
Among the others being honored on Saturday are retired First Lieutenant Alvin Strasberger, Sergeant First Class John P. Dresel, and Chief Warrant Officer Five Dennis Cordova.
"It's always very touching to see the faces of the veterans who are there and to hear what they have to say," Senter said.
Strasberger joined the Army at age 19, flew 60 missions as a B-25 pilot during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Dresel joined the military in 1998 and has been deployed to Iraq three times. Since then he has earned the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal. Cordova is a South Carolina graduate who currently serves as the state aviation school manager and senior aviation safety officer for the 59th Aviation Troop Command of the South Carolina Army National Guard. Having served in Kuwait and Iraq, his awards include the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Family members who have lost loved ones while serving in the United States military will also be present, and fans in attendance with family members who have given the ultimate sacrifice will be asked to stand as those heroes are honored with a 21 gun salute and the playing of Taps.
Saturday is senior day. It's also a chance for the fans at Williams-Brice Stadium to let those who serve, without asking for recognition, know how proud they are of the sacrifices made.
"I'm just glad President Harris Pastides and (Athletics Director) Ray Tanner continue that tradition," Senter said. "It's just an honor to be part of it."
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