Face of Defense: Airman Honors Vets Via Baseball

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig LeBlanc said the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hon­or U.S. vet­er­ans and meet with base­ball heroes dur­ing a near month-long jour­ney from New Orleans to ground zero in New York City ear­li­er this year was an expe­ri­ence he’ll nev­er for­get.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig LeBlanc, who was a mem­ber of the “Heroes of the Dia­mond” base­ball club ear­li­er this year, stands along­side U.S. Navy vet­er­an Everett Swan­son, a sur­vivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Har­bor that caused Amer­i­ca to enter World War II. LeBlanc is a mil­i­tary train­ing instruc­tor assigned to the 331st Train­ing Squadron at Lack­land Air Force Base, Texas.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

LeBlanc, an instruc­tor assigned to the 331st Train­ing Squadron here, was select­ed as one of sev­er­al mil­i­tary ambas­sadors for the “Heroes of the Dia­mond” club, a nation­al team char­tered with pro­mot­ing good­will and mil­i­tary aware­ness through the sport of base­ball. “It was tru­ly a priv­i­lege,” LeBlanc said about play­ing on the HOD team. “I was giv­en the free­dom to play base­ball, and it was an hon­or to rep­re­sent the Air Force. I know what the flag means to me and what it rep­re­sents. I’m proud to be wear­ing the red, white and blue.” 

Team mem­bers began their tour Jan. 1 from New Orleans. They trav­eled to Philadel­phia and sev­er­al oth­er cities, where they dis­played the ground zero flag to thou­sands of Amer­i­cans, includ­ing ser­vice mem­bers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Though LeBlanc since has returned to his instruc­tor duty, the team con­tin­ues its jour­ney across the Unit­ed States. It’s sched­uled to arrive at its final des­ti­na­tion in New York on Sept. 11, offi­cials said. There, at the site of the for­mer World Trade Cen­ter tow­ers, the flag will be pre­sent­ed and per­ma­nent­ly displayed. 

As a mil­i­tary ambas­sador for the HOD, LeBlanc met sev­er­al base­ball leg­ends at the Base­ball Hall of Fame in Coop­er­stown, N.Y., includ­ing Pete Rose, Ozzie Smith and Yogi Berra. 

“Meet­ing Yogi Berra was one of the coolest times ever,” LeBlanc said. “He is a base­ball leg­end, and it is not every day you get to shake the hand of a base­ball legend.” 

The tour also pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to meet with mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, and fam­i­lies of the fall­en from the 9/11 attacks, LeBlanc said. Hear­ing their sto­ries, he said, made him real­ize how for­tu­nate he is. 

“I always tell my wife and kids that I love them,” LeBlanc said. “Life is too pre­cious to let it go to waste.” 

LeBlanc said he was proud to be wear­ing the red, white and blue on his chest as part of his HOD base­ball uni­form. Every play­er on the team, he added, wears a num­ber that rep­re­sents a his­toric day or fig­ure in Amer­i­can history. 

“I wear No. 21, which rep­re­sents the Tomb of the Unknowns [at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery],” LeBlanc said. 

Cut­ting the trip short and return­ing home before this year’s 9/11 obser­vance in New York City was dif­fi­cult, he said, but duty called and air­men must place ser­vice before self, he added. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →