The lights at the United Center dimmed as a single spotlight focused on the American flag. Hockey fans applauded and cheered as two Soldiers stood on a red carpet over the ice.
Local Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Eric Kroner, G-3 Force Protection/Physical Security Officer, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command and Brig. Gen. Doug Lowrey, Commanding General, Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas stood at attention while singer Jim Cornelison sang the National Anthem before the start of Monday night’s Chicago Blackhawks game versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
It was all part of the Blackhawks Military Appreciation Night game on November 14, 2022.
Kroner’s wife, Anna, and his two sons, Jacob and James, accompanied him to the game in recognition of Kroner’s 25 years of combined active duty and Army Reserve service.
“It’s an honor. It’s special for us,” said Anna. “He doesn’t like all the attention normally”.
Before the recognition, Kroner talked about the significance of receiving the honor from the Blackhawks.
“I’ve been going to Blackhawks games since I was a little kid,” said Kroner. “It’s nice the Blackhawks are doing this. I never thought I would be on the ice myself.”
Kroner served in Afghanistan when the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Stanley Cup back in 2010.
Kroner was moved standing in front of the hockey fans and hearing the National Anthem.
“The simple fact that I can hear Jim Cornelison sing the National Anthem. You’re on the ice. The song has a lot of meaning. To hear it sung so well is amazing,” said Kroner. “People sacrificed their lives for this.”
Kroner deployed to Iraq with the 814th Military Police Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2004 and then later to Afghanistan with the 16th Military Police Brigade from 2009 to 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
His awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, the Army Commendation Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster and the Army Achievement Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters.
In addition to the military appreciation night, Soldiers assigned to the 85th USARSC participated in two other local events to honor Veterans on Veteran’s Day.
A color guard, assigned to the 85th USARSC, was part of a patriotic celebration for Veteran’s, Family members and Soldiers at the Church Creek Senior Assisted Living Center’s Veteran’s luncheon in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Chaplain Captain Anthony Catella, 1st Battalion, Indiana Veteran’s Reserve Corp, offered a prayer before the start of the luncheon where local Soldiers ate and conversed with veterans that reside there.
“It’s important to honor those who have served and remember their sacrifice,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tony-James Beyer, Chief Paralegal Non-Commissioned Officer, Office of the Command Judge Advocate, 85th USARSC. “Thank you to all veterans who have served and are currently serving.”
Hockey fans, at the Chicago Wolves-Iowa Wild game on November 12, 2022, at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, watched the color guard perform during the playing of the National Anthem.
“Performing color guard at the Chicago Wolves game on Veteran’s Day weekend was truly an honor,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Craggs, G-3 Mobilization Cell, 85th USARSC. “Seeing and hearing the appreciation from everyone in the crowd was an unforgettable experience.”