Bulldog Flyover Features Academy, Fresno State Alumni Pilots

Nov. 21, 2012

FRESNO, Calif. - Military Appreciation Day at the Nov. 24 football game between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Air Force Academy Falcons will include a military tribute complete with a flyover featuring alumni-pilots, a large U.S. flag on the field, military vehicles, Toys-for-Tots drive, and a military-themed halftime show.

President John D. Welty will host commanders of the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno and Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL), bases that have provided the majority of flyover services for Bulldog games.

Moments before Saturday's kickoff, the 144th Fighter Wing will conduct a two-ship F-16 flyover. The pilots manning the jets are graduates of the schools on the field. Col. Clay Garrison from Madera is an alumnus of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Capt. Luke Campagne from Sanger was a Smittcamp Honors College student at Fresno State.

President Welty will be joined at the game by local military commanders. Together they will greet the highest ranking military officer attending the game, Air Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould. The three-star general often travels with the Falcons to their away games, standing on the sideline with his team. He accepted an invitation to visit the President's skybox to meet local commanders including Col. Sami D. Said of the 144th Fighter Wing and Capt. Eric Venema of the NASL.

Additional 144th commanders who will be at the game are Col. Reed C. Drake, Col. Gary Kellogg, Col. Joseph M. Pascuzzo and Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Thornell.

The game will kick off at 12:36 p.m., immediately following the flyover.

Adding to the list of dignitaries is Dr. Sam Iocabellis, a Fresno State alumnus who served as Rockwell International's program manager for development and manufacture of the B-1B. He will be on the field for the flyover along with President Welty, Lt. Gen. Gould, the two base commanders and Dr. Peter Smits, vice president for University Advancement.

Fresno State and the U.S. Air Force Academy are meeting for the first time since 2000. With a win the Bulldogs can capture the Mountain West championship their first season in the league. This is also the Bulldogs first year with coach Tim DeRuyter, who is an alumnus of the Academy.

"We're pleased with the success of Coach DeRuyter in his first year. This is an exciting game, both as an opportunity to clinch the title, but more importantly to honor the servicemen and women who serve our country," Welty said. "We are especially honored by the presence of Gen. Gould and our own local commanders."

Also attending is Fresno State's own Air Force ROTC commander, Lt. Col Matt Buehler. He expects more than 100 Academy alumni to be in the crowd. "This is a big game for many of us in the Air Force. We appreciate that the Bulldogs and the Red Wave fans are paying a special tribute to our Armed Forces," Buehler said.

The on-field Military Appreciation Day tribute began with a special ticket price of $14, offered for select sections in the stadium, in honor of our military service men and women. Those tickets remain available through the end of the week.

At the game, military vehicles also will be stationed outside the four main entrances. Fans will be greeted by U.S. Marines in uniform collecting toys for the annual Toys for Tots drive.

A Joint Color Guard, commandeered by the Air Force ROTC and consisting of representatives of the nation's military branches, will present colors. As the Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band performs the National Anthem, a large U.S. flag will be unfurled on the field.

Five 2012 Outstanding Airmen of the Year awardees from the 144th will be honored at the game: Sr. Airman Jed Rhine, Airman category; Tech. Srgt. Jason Ganner, Non-commissioned Officer category; Sr. Master Srgt. Justin Matlock, Senior Non-commissioned Officer category; Master Srgt. Jamie Snider, First Sergeant category ; Kevin Swayne, Company Grade Officer -First Lieutenant; and Major Jonathan Cartwright, Field Grade Officer.

Other highlights of Military Appreciation Day include the Dogs' ROTC Pushup Crew. Every time the `Dogs score, the Air Force officer candidates will do push-ups for each Fresno State point accumulated.