By Art Garcia, www.armedforcesbowl.com
Brant Ringler might have order warmer weather. Everything else went just as he hoped, as the 10th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl wrapped with Rice defeated Air Force 33-14 Saturday afternoon under sunny skies at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
"It was a great game with great fan support and tributes to our military," said Ringler, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director. "I'm very excited about how everything went."
A decade of history, plus the new canvas provided by a completely renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium, has the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl well on its way of becoming a true Cowtown tradition.
A lively crowd of 40,754 braved the 30-degree weather – the second coldest day in Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl history – to witness two unique programs made up of outstanding young men. Air Force cadets are being trained to serve and protect this country. Rice players, as Owls coach David Bailiff said earlier this week, are future doctors and engineers.
"Both schools are far as the education they bring to their students, and they're all going to be future leaders of America," Ringler said. "Some will on the battlefield as well, and that's special in its own right. These guys are taking care of it in the classroom."
The morning began with a performance from the Rice Marching Owl Band. The Wings of Blue and the Silver Wings of the Army parachuted in together, followed by a routine from J.P. Elder Middle School, the National Champion Rifle Drill Team. A flyover of four F-16s punctuated the National Anthem sung by Commander Hank Kim, Skipper of the Gold Crew USS Fort Worth, and backed by the 36th Infantry Division Band from Austin.
A ceremony between the first and second quarter in the south end zone sponsored through the Military Warriors Support Foundation awarded a mortgage-free home to United States Navy, Retired Corpsman Second Class James Holbrook, a combat wounded veteran. Holbrook and his wife Rachel received the keys to a four-bedroom, two-story home in San Antonio.
The Great American Patriot Award, presented by Armed Forces Insurance, was given to General Norton A Schwartz, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, at halftime. More than 125 recruits were inducted into the military at halftime by General Whistler from the Marine Corps.
Hundred of family members with Wounded Warriors were hosted in the south end zone by the Air Power Foundation, with a number of Wounded Warriors recognized on the field.
"There were more here than I even knew about," Ringler said. "To have veterans from World War II here … we had a gentleman here, a World War II veteran from the 82nd Airborne who's as young and spry as ever. It was a great way to honor them."
A first for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl this year was the creation of the Armed Forces Merit Award, which was awarded to Nate Boyer of the University of Texas. The award was conceived to honor an individual and/or group that has brought distinction and recognition to both their service in the Armed Forces and the sport of football.
Ringler has already begun the countdown to the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. He promises it be bigger, better and more rewarding. With the momentum of the last 10 years, it's easy to see why.
"Now that we're back here and with the support we're receiving, I definitely feel that way," Ringler said. "We'll continue to grow this event. It's Fort Worth's event."
Just don't ask him to make any promises about the weather.