Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
TACOMA, Washington – The Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, hosted their annual Salute to Armed Forces Day game June 11 against the New York Mets’ minor league affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.
The game was kicked off with Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Boyle, from Tacoma, Washington, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Boyle, who retired from the Army in July 2012 with a Purple Heart, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost most of his right arm, right leg, and severely damaged his left leg during a land mine explosion in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I’m definitely a little nervous,” Boyle said with a laugh, before taking the mound. “I’m just hoping that I can go out there and put the ball right over the plate.”
Boyle received a big cheer from the crowd as he approached the mound and after his throw successfully reached the catcher behind home plate to start the game.
“It was a great honor to be able to go out there and represent the military,” Boyle said, after his pitch. “I am very relieved that my throw made it over the plate!”
The Rainiers make a big point of providing opportunities for active and prior military members the chance to enjoy a good game, by teaming up with USO Northwest to provide a USO Heroes Suite free of charge to military members. But Salute to Armed Forces Day allows the Rainiers the opportunity to show their gratitude and respect on a larger scale.
“We’re closely tied with a strong, local, military community here and we like to take this day to go all out and honor the brave men and women who have served and are serving the country,” said Brett Gleason, the Rainiers media and communications manager. “We think of the Rainiers as being a vital part of the local community, and the military is a big part of our community, so we are honored to be able to give them the opportunity to come out and enjoy a nice sunny day at the ballpark.
Other pregame festivities including an open oath of enlistment for 24 future U.S. Army Soldiers, and the 12th Marines Corps District of Seattle Honor Guard presenting the colors for the National Anthem.
The Rainiers beat the 51s 5-3 following a strong performance by starting pitcher, Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez, who is rehabbing himself following an injury.