The Thunder on Monday will continue its tradition of honoring the military with the sixth annual Military Appreciation Night.
More than 1,000 military personnel will be in attendance as the Thunder takes on Atlanta.
Thunder vice president of communications and community relations Dan Mahoney called the event an honor.
“The thing that we're really proud of this year is that we've had hundreds of our season ticket members give up their seats,” Mahoney said. “We have more than 1,000 tickets that have been given by season ticket members to us to turn over to military personnel.”
The team partnered with the National Guard and Tinker Air Force Base to distribute tickets to active duty military, the National Guard and veterans.
“We have great relationships with the military community at Tinker, Fort Sill, Vance Air Force Base, as well as the Oklahoma National Guard and Reserves,” Mahoney said. “We have a lot of fan support within the military community, and we have corporate support. We are always honored to pay tribute to our military any night. But we are also proud, for the sixth time, to have a game devoted to honoring both active and veterans.”
Events scheduled throughout the evening will include an auction, with proceeds benefiting Operation Homefront, an initiative to provide emergency assistance to families of service members, an opportunity to write letters to troops currently stationed overseas and an opportunity for fans to submit photos of themselves and loved ones in service that will be shown throughout the night.
Between the first and second quarters, the Thunder also will honor five members of the military as its Devon Community Heroes.
“Obviously, there are thousands of thousands of heroes that you can honor in the military,” Mahoney said. “But what we chose to do is have it be representative of various branches and various eras … We're honoring each of them individually, but they also represent all who served in those times.”
Those honored will include Oklahoma National Guard member Spc. James Kimball, who will represent current service members; Army Spc. Pete Johnson, representing Desert Storm and Desert Shield veterans; Air Force Maj. Don Hardin, representing Vietnam veterans; Army Cpl. Jack Dake, representing Korean War veterans; and Army Sgt. Harley Richardson, representing veterans of World War II.
All five honorees are from Oklahoma.
Before the game, Chaplain James Smith of the Oklahoma National Guard will lead the invocation. The U.S. Naval Honor Guard will present the colors. The halftime presentation will feature the Southeast High School JROTC silent drill team, as well as the administration of the oath of enlistment for incoming members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.