35th MTSU Salute to Armed Services Nov. 5 events make vets feel special

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In this 2015 file photo, the playing of taps by Andrew Von Tempi helps conclude the memorial service that kicks off the annual MTSU Salute to Veterans Game events. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

The day will be all about America's veterans.

From the early morning memorial service to a picnic that includes recognizing the Dr. Joe Nunley Award recipients to the MTSU Band of Blue halftime salute, the 35th annual Salute to Armed Services Game is all about making veterans and their families feel treasured.

All activities will take place on the MTSU campus, and most will lead up to the 1:30 p.m. kickoff for the Conference USA football game between the Blue Raiders (6-2 overall) and the University of Texas-San Antonio (4-4) in Floyd Stadium.

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Game tickets provided by State Farm are complimentary for veterans and their families, and will be available at the picnic.

To find parking, the stadium, the MTSU Memorial site and other buildings, a searchable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

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Since 1982, MTSU's Salute to Armed Services events pay tribute to the men and women who serve or who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The Blue Raiders want fans to join them in one of the nation's longest-running veterans' celebrations.

The timeline of Salute to Armed Services events is as follows:

• 9:30 a.m. -- Memorial service honoring veterans outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, will be the guest speaker. Huber retired as a lieutenant general after a nearly 40-year career in the U.S. Army.

• 11 a.m. -- Veterans and families picnic on the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame lawn.

• 11 a.m. -- Silent auction in Kennon Hall of Fame, benefiting the Salute to Armed Services fund.

• Noon -- Veterans Village opens on the stadium concourse.

• Noon. -- Dr. Joe Nunley Award presentation at the picnic site. The 2016 recipients are Murfreesboro businessmen and MTSU alumni Bud Morris and Bob Lamb, who both served during the Vietnam War.

• 1:30 p.m. -- Football kickoff.

• Halftime salute -- MTSU Band of Blue performs military fight songs as each of the U.S. military branches -- Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy -- march across Horace Jones Field together.

The Nunley award, formerly presented to a World War II veteran who also made his or her mark in life after serving their country, now is given "to a veteran known for service to others in the Middle Tennessee community," said MTSU alumnus John Furgess (Class of 1965) of Nashville, who helped found the event with Nunley.

The Salute to Armed Services event also features an annual Marines Toys for Tots drive.

Collection barrels for new and unwrapped toys will be placed at each end of Floyd Stadium and at club level. People also can place donations in Marine ammunition cans with a slot; the Marines are not permitted to accept money from donors by hand.

For more information, visit www.goblueraiders.com.

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