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Chicago Bulls salute our veterans

As our nation once again pays tribute to those who have served our country with honor and distinction, Bulls.com shares with you the story of those within the Bulls organization who either served themselves or has stood by as a parent, sibling or other loved one served.
Chicago Bulls salute our veterans

“On days like this, we are called to reflect on immeasurable burdens that have been borne by so few. We pay tribute to our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families—men and women who have known the true costs of conflict and deserve our deepest respect, now and forever. We also remember that our commitments to those who have served are commitments we must honor not only on Veterans Day, but every day.”

-- Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, 2012 Veterans Day proclamation

Also: Bulls to honor service men and women on Veterans Day
Bulls support local wounded warriors at "Stars and Strikes" event

By Adam Fluck | 11.11.2012

As our nation once again pays tribute to those who have served our country with honor and distinction, Bulls.com shares with you the story of those within the Bulls organization who either served themselves or has stood by as a parent, sibling or other loved one served. These are their accounts as we all reflect on the sacrifices made my so many brave members of our military, past and present.

Submissions are listed in the order they were received:

John Ryan Paxson, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Son of John Paxson, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations

Ryan has been in the Marine Corps for four years and finished a tour in Afghanistan in August. He is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. While in Afghanistan, he was combat meritoriously promoted to Sergeant and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. Ryan has made the decision to re-enlist and will be starting his assignment in Quantico, Virginia with the Marine Corps HMX-1 unit in January.

"We are so very proud of Ryan's commitment and sacrifice to our country,” said Paxson. “He is one of the very few who volunteer in this way and it says so much about the character of the young men and women who do so. We feel very lucky to be a military family and are grateful for all those who put this country before themselves."

Ben Adair, Sergeant, United States Army
Manager of Purchasing

Before joining the Bulls organization, Adair served three years active duty in the U.S. Army and six years active duty reserves before being honorably discharged with the rank of Sergent. He served in the reserves during Desert Storm. During his period of service, Adair was awarded the Soldier of the Month award several times and eventually the Soldier of the Quarter at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, along with being a member of the Weapons Honor Guard.

“Service in the U.S. Army has given me first-hand experience knowing the challenges of a military life,” said Adair. “I can say with certainty I’m proud to have served my country to the best of my ability and very much appreciate those who make the sacrifice to do the same today.”

Norma Crotty, United States Navy
Grandmother of Jon Shoemaker, Director of Creative Services

Norma served during WWII with the U.S. Navy as a flight nurse. She was one of the first twelve Navy nurses to serve as flight nurses. She was responsible for evacuating the injured from Iwo Jima and Okinawa during the battles. She received a Unit Commendation for her extraordinary efforts. She was featured in Bill Bradley's book "Flags of Our Fathers" and has been on many programs by the History Channel dealing with Iwo Jima.

“My grandmother's service is a very emotional topic for me,” said Shoemaker. “I can't imagine all that she went through during her time in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. She put her life on the line during those daily runs to Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and I couldn't be prouder of her selflessness. She was and always will be an inspiration to me and my entire family.”

Petty Officer Second Class Tyler Buck, United States Navy
Son of Eric Buck, Director of Team Security

Tyler has been in the Navy for three and a half years and is a CryptoLogic Technician. Tyler has been deployed twice to Afghanistan for a total of 14 months. His deployments were related to Joint Service Special Operations Command assignments. He has been awarded two Joint Services Commendation Medals, one Army Commendation medal, two Naval Commendations, and also was designated as Sailor of the Year (Washington D.C. District) for 2011. Tyler leaves Fort Meade, Maryland for a new assignment in Fort Bragg, North Carolina in December 2012. Tyler will be re-enlisting as a result of this new assignment.

“It goes beyond words the pride we have for what Tyler has chosen to do for this country,” said Buck. “Those that volunteer now and those that were drafted in the past should always be held steadfast for their commitments to our freedom. Veterans Day has taken on a more personnel meaning in our household over the past four years, it also has escalated the respect we all should have for those that patriotically have defended this country and the families that have supported such men and women. To all veterans and their families, thank you!”

Denise Aleman, United States Navy
Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President, Financial & Legal

Denise served four years in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific and then at Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, both located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She served during the Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm. Denise received numerous awards including a Letter of Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.

Denise’s younger brother, Joe Hunter, followed in her footsteps and joined the U.S. Navy and spent three years on the USS George Washington. Her father, Joseph Hunter, served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and was stationed at Strategic Air Command at Wurtsmith AFB in Oscoda, MI.

“I am very proud to be a Veteran and am grateful to all the men and women who have served and are serving,” said Aleman.

Commander Arthur Swirsky, United States Navy
Father of Chuck Swirsky, Radio Play-by-Play Announcer

Arthur’s travels took him to all parts of the world to help protect America's freedom. The 13 days in October of 1962 was the biggest challenge our country faced regarding the possibility of an all-out nuclear war. Norfolk, Virginia was the hub of Naval activity and Chuck saw how his father handled the pressure of coordinating assignments while reassuring his mother and two sisters that America would stand strong despite the efforts of the Soviet Union sending missies to Cuba.

“I am proud to have been the son of a decorated United States Naval officer serving our country in Norfolk and Seattle,” said Swirsky. “He served his country with dignity, professionalism, integrity and character. I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. I pray daily for our men and women who are serving our country and their families throughout the world. I have walked in your shoes and I appreciate everything you are doing to make sure the United States of America remains the greatest country on Earth.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class IC2/SS Kenneth C. Stevenson, United States Navy
Husband of Claudia Stevenson, Accountant

Kenneth served aboard the U.S.S. Hyman G. Rickover SSN 709 Fast Attack Submarine for three and a half years. He served in the Navy as an Electrician/Electronics Technician for four years active and 16 years as a Naval Reservist. Ken was awarded two Battle Expedition Medals, four Good Conduct Awards, two Battle “E” Awards, a Marksman Award and a NAM Award. As a Reservist, Ken also served as a Bugler in rendering Military Funeral Honors for several years.

“Ken followed in his step-father Petty Officer 1st Class Donald Holmes’ footsteps into the Navy,” said Stevenson. “My daughters and I are extremely proud of Ken’s service in the Navy for our country. I’ve had the honor of witnessing Ken’s character as he has played ‘Taps’ at many of our WWII Veterans funerals. Even playing ‘Taps’ at my father, Private Claude Davis’ funeral, who served our country in the Army.

Clifford Fluck, United States Army | Arthur Mayerle, United States Navy
Grandfathers of Adam Fluck, Senior Manager of Interactive Marketing

Cliff fought in Belgium as part of the Battle of Bulge during World War II, losing a finger due to bomb shrapnel. He was in the 38th Infantry Regiment 2nd Infantry Division. Cliff was awarded the Bronze Star and three campaign medals: the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe. Art was a Hospital Apprentice First Class in the Navy. He was stationed in San Diego during the war and also spent time in New York.

“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the generations who came before us and fought for our country,” said Fluck. “Without their sacrifices, it’s hard to say what our nation might be like. It’s with great pride that I remember the efforts made by both of my grandfathers.”

Warrant Officer (WO1) Daniel Farrell, United States Army
Brother of Wendy Knoll - Senior Manager of Basketball Administration

Dan recently completed training at Fort Rucker, AL as a UH-60 Blackhawk-rated Army aviator. He is currently stationed at Ft. Bliss, TX providing aviation support for the 1st Armored Division. Deployment to Afghanistan is anticipated in early 2013.

Additional family members who have served in the past in the United States Army: Spec4, Kenneth Knoll (father-in-law) - served in 1957 for six years, stationed in Alaska; Spec4, George McKee (uncle) - Served in 1963 for two years, stationed in Germany; Sergeant, Infantry, Mark Shaw (brother-in-law) - Served in 1985 for two years, stationed in Germany.

"My brother Dan is fulfilling his life-long dream of being a pilot,” said Knoll. “It was awe-inspiring to see him receive his wings as a Blackhawk aviator! I am also thankful for the past service of my uncle, father-in-law and brother-n-law. Celebrating Veterans Day is a wonderful tribute to all Americans who have served in the military."

Justin Brown, United States Navy, USS Harry S. Truman
Son of Randy Brown, Special Assistant to the General Manager

Justin has just completed his 2nd full year as a Machinist Repairman-2nd Class aboard the Harry S. Truman. While stationed in Virginia, Justin has performed many outstanding duties while quickly moving up in the ranks in just 2 years time. Justin was also a part of Operations Iraqi Freedom and enduring freedom in the Arabian Gulf.

"The Brown family is extremely proud of Justin in his accomplishments and we feel the U.S. Navy has transformed Justin into a quality person and sailor,” said Brown. “Justin is extremely proud and takes pride in the history of what the Navy stands for. He cherishes the experiences and relationships he's built along his journey. Justin is very gifted and every child should have an experience in ROTC while in high school, which gives them a sense of discipline, self-worth and pride for their country. We salute those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.”

Corporal Kevin Cronin, United States Marine Corps Infantry
Brother Christine Duhig, Manager of Corporate Communications

Kevin served in the U.S. Marine Corps Infantry from 2008 – 2012. During his time, he completed three combat tours of duty including Afghanistan and Iraq. While in Afghanistan, he was in the Helmand Province with the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Division. He is a combat veteran of two wars (Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan).

“I have so much respect and appreciation for Kevin and all the courageous service men and women who are fighting for our nation,” said Christine. “They selflessly put their lives at risk to protect our freedom and for that I don’t think we can ever say thank you enough.”

Ervin G. Brewster, United States Army Reserve
Brother of Sebrina Beyer, Director of Public & Media Relations

Ervin has 30 years of military service that consist of both Active Army and Army Reserve time. He completed a 12 month tour in Afghanistan in 2005. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant school. After graduating, he served two years at Fort Jackson as a Drill Sergeant. He was a finalist for the Drill Sergeant of the Year award. He is currently serving as a First Sergeant with 1/518th Drill Sergeant Unit located in Asheville, N.C.

“My brother has dedicated most of his life to military service,” said Beyer. “I am so proud to honor him on Veterans Day as someone who loves his country and has sacrificed his life for others. I admire his bravery and the bravery of all men and women who serve. On this Veterans Day, they deserve our praise today and always.”

Captain Mark Hamstra, United States Army
Brother-in-Law of Brandon Wright, Manager of Group Ticket Sales

Mark has been serving in the Army for over seven years. He has been stationed in four different states and two countries, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2008-09 where he served as a mentor to the Afghan National Army and was awarded the Bronze Star. In 2011, Mark transitioned from active duty to the Army National Guard Reserve. He is currently the commander of Guard unit based in southern Illinois. Mark is using the experience gained by serving our country to now serve high school students as a dean of discipline at Chicago Bulls College Prep High School on the west side.

“I am incredibly thankful and blessed for Mark’s service and leadership to our country and for the many men and women that are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom,” said Wright. “Mark is a man of great integrity, strong character, and it’s a blessing for me to see the wonderful husband and father he is to his wife and two young boys. I am proud to call him my brother.”

Captain Joseph F. Core, United States Army Infantry & Military Intelligence Officer
Husband of Cathy Core, Director of the Luvabulls, Junior Luvabulls, BullsKidz, Swingin' Seniors

Joe served in the United States Army for four years as an Infantry and Military Intelligence Officer. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam from 1968-69 after which he was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Vietnamese Honor Medals and the Bronze Star for his service and bravery.

“I am so proud of Joe's commitment and so grateful for the sacrifices that he made for our country and for our freedom that we still enjoy today,” said Cathy. “His quiet leadership speaks volumes for those who know him and seek his advice. We are eternally grateful for those who continue to serve and protect us. God bless our military men and women and God bless America.”

Aeroscout Thomas Richard Yob, United States Army
Brother of Matt Yob, Public & Media Relations Manager

Tom served in the Army for three years (1990-93), where he was an Aeroscout piloting OH-58C helicopters. He was a member of A Troop 2/17 Calvary from the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, KY. As a member of the Screaming Eagles, he served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield where he flew reconnaissance missions in Iraq. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal which is presented for sustained acts of heroism, extraordinary achievement or significant meritorious service which has been of mutual benefit to the friendly nation and the United States. He also received the United States Army Air Medal for exceptionally meritorious achievement while engaged in flight operations against an enemy of the United States.

“My family and I are exceptionally proud of Tom’s service in the United States Army,” said Yob. “Our pride was heightened by the fact that our country was about to go to war. Following his tour in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, we were able to greet him upon his return to Fort Campbell. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and one that I will never forget.”

Stephen Henderson, United States Army & Illinois National Guard
Cousin of Jenna DiDiana, Ticket Representative

Stephen was deployed to Iraq in 2004-05, boots on ground, for a total of 13 months. While in Iraq, Stephen was on a Personal Security Detachment team, getting "VIPs” from point A to point B safely. VIPs were anyone such as a general, ambassadors, celebrities, and so on. Stephen was frequently involved in confidential special missions, and was always on the road engaged in combat with the enemy quite often.

“I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say how proud we are of Stephen, and how honored we are to call him a relative,” said Jenna. “Stephen was referred to by his peers as ‘Soldier of the Millennium’ due to his hard work, and astounding success, and we are not surprised in the least. Stephen and many of his peers are model citizens who are humble and loyal to our country and we are very appreciative!

“He said, ‘I am a different person because of it and the sacrifices I have made; I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Some people hate the Military and some people love it; but it is like anything else you do in your life; you will get out of it whatever you put in.’ In my opinion, that's a quote that can be applied to anyone's life and their struggles and goals. I am proud to be related to such a tough, strong, and intelligent man!”

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