In a fitting Veteran’s Day tribute, the 49ers will be recognizing the men and women serving the United States across the world this Sunday when they face the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.
A camouflaged ribbon sticker has been placed on each gold helmet this week, along with the player’s choice of another sticker to recognize the five branches of our armed forces. Of the 53 49ers, 13 chose Marines or Navy stickers, 11 chose Army, nine chose Air Force and seven chose Coast Guard.
For Tavares Gooden, picking an Army sticker was a no-brainer.
Gooden joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as a high school student in Florida, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who served in the Army, and a brother who served in the Navy. Gooden reached the rank of Sgt. 1st Class during his time with the ROTC, and has since tattooed the Sgt. 1st Class patch on to his left shoulder.
“I was raised in a military family so that’s why I did ROTC,” Gooden said. “I learned leadership, discipline and how to defend myself – key characteristics of life.”
Daniel Kilgore also had a good reason to pick his Marines sticker. Two of his best friends from college at Appalachian State have already served two terms in Iraq, but have since returned safely. One is currently stationed in San Diego, while the other is in South Carolina.
“It’s always nice when you can pay tribute to them for serving our country,” Kilgore said. “I’m so blessed for what my boys have done and enabled me to do. I look at that, for sure.”
Meanwhile, Ian Williams has different logic for choosing to represent Navy’s emblem.
“They beat us three times while I was in college, so I had to show them some respect,” the Notre Dame alum said. “But it’s an honor to be representing those guys and show respect for all they do for us.”
The 49ers also hosted nearly 40 servicemen and women to watch Wednesday’s practice at the team facility, before Sunday’s Salute to Service at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers and USAA have teamed up for a day-long celebration of our military that includes a Wounded Warriors presentation, a tribute to veterans, the swearing-in of new members of the United States Army, and a stadium card stunt honoring those who have given of themselves to protect our freedom. To download and share exclusive photos of Sunday’s card stunt, visit millionfansalute.com.
Tags: Daniel Kilgore, Ian Williams, Tavares Gooden
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