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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2016

Army Reserve leader joins NFL team to honor Vietnam Veterans

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Regional Support Command

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The New York Jets pro-football franchise is known for its green-and-white uniforms, but the team recently honored those who wore a very different type of uniform at a time when Joe Namath led the team to victory in Super Bowl III.

On Dec. 4, the organization hosted an event at its training facility here to honor Vietnam Veterans as part of the Vietnam War’s ongoing 50th anniversary commemoration that kicked off in 2015 as directed by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

“When I talk about Vietnam Veterans, you all are so very special to me,” said Maj. Gen. Troy D. Kok, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, during the event. “This is about honoring our heroes – you’ve served your country and you’ve given something that’s part of you that only you understand.”

Kok was part of the event’s official party, which also included retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, a Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, and Mike Maccagnan, New York Jets general manager.

“When I went to my first Army Reserve unit in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, 85 percent of my unit were Vietnam Veterans,” said Kok, who trained as an aviator. “The values that I learned were invaluable.”

Veterans and their families were granted exclusive access to watch the players practice, followed by an opportunity to meet with many of the players who stayed on the field and signed autographs and posed for photos.

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers were first mobilized and deployed to Vietnam by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, and more than 3,500 Warrior-Citizens in 35 Army Reserve units served their country in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

“I was one of those kids who grew up in the 1960s. I remember those video clips on TV as you were fighting for our country. Many of you were draftees. You were told to go, and you did. You saluted the Flag and drove on and represented our country,” Kok said.

“Thank you all for what you do, thank you all for what you’ve done, and I just ask that you continue to do the thing that you do so well – talk about our great nation and what it means to be a Veteran and what it means to serve,” he added.