Military Appreciation Day at Clemson is not just a day in which the university honors those who have served in the Armed Forces … it’s an event unlike any other school in the country that honors its military.
Clemson has a deep rooted military tradition that goes all the way back to its humble beginnings as a land-grant college in 1889. It is started off as an agricultural and military school and up until the mid-1950s it was known as Clemson A&M College.
Clemson will honor and remember those who have fought in the military on Saturday when the second-ranked Tigers host Syracuse in Clemson Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m.
“I have such a great respect for everyone out there who honors our military and takes a day and tries to designate that and celebrate that. But really, I’m just checking a box here. It is an event at Clemson, and a lot of that, again, is because of the roots of our school, being that military school, and such a long history, there are so many veterans that are Clemson alums,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Clemson University has a full slate of activities planned throughout the day in conjunction with the 23rd Military Appreciation Day. The game features a “Purple Out” as fans are encouraged to wear purple in support of the military.
Starting today (Thursday) flags will be placed on the Scroll of Honor Memorial at 5 p.m. Those interested in watching are welcome to attend and participate in this ceremony.
On Saturday, Bowman Field will have S.C. Army National Guard helicopters and other interactive military displays along with vintage vehicles from the State Guard. The 315th Airlift Wing from Charleston, S.C., will have the “Mini-17” on display on Bowman Field. The “Mini-17” is a scale replica of the C-17, which conducted the flyover of last year’s Military Appreciation Day game.
Following a half-hour Tiger Band performance in the amphitheater beginning at 2 p.m., the military parade rolls from the Holmes and McCabe dormitories. All veterans and current military personnel are invited to participate in the parade. The parade lineup will take place at 2:15 p.m., outside of Bracket Hall.
A flyover by two Air Force A-10s will take place at the conclusion of the national anthem prior to the Syracuse game. The lead A-10 will be flown by Clemson Air Force ROTC graduate captain Jim Knauss from Moody Air Force Base.
After the alma mater and an enlistment ceremony, fans are encouraged to turn their attention to the sky as members of the Special Forces Association Parachute Team from Fort Bragg enter the stadium.
There will be several special guests and high-ranking military officials in Memorial Stadium for Military Appreciation Day. In-game military recognitions will include the introduction of these officials, the hero-of-the-game, Wounded Warriors and Honor Flight.
All veterans and active-duty military members are invited to come down to the field and be recognized during halftime. To participate, go to portal X in the WestZone or enter through the visitor’s tunnel (Gate 10) with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
During halftime, Tiger Band will play the Armed Forces Medley, and all veterans and active-duty military members are asked to stand to be recognized when their branch’s song is played. Veterans will be recognized in the west end zone by branch during this time as well.
Families of fallen service members from the state of South Carolina will also be introduced at halftime. A fallen soldier tribute and 21-gun salute will follow in the east end zone, ending with the playing of “Taps.”
Clemson’s proud military history really began in 1917, when the entire senior class of Clemson Agricultural College volunteered for service in World War I. A total of 1,549 Clemson cadets saw service in World War I, 25 of which died in battle.
Two soldiers from Clemson received the Congressional Medal of Honor: Ensign Daniel Sullivan and Sergeant Erans Foster.
The famous Senior Platoon was created in 1929 adding to the prestige of Clemson’s military heritage. The Senior Platoon gave drill performances throughout the nation, including Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and became better known as the “Pride of Clemson.”
World War II saw Clemson cadets answer the call to arms just as they had for World War I. Only Texas A&M and Army provided more Army officers for World War II than Clemson. A total of 6,475 Clemson alums faced battle in one theater or another, and 370 died in the name of freedom.
The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to LTC Jimmy Dyess.
The list of Tiger military heroes can be traced back to the corps of cadets, but is not limited to pure military men. Some of the most famous athletes in school history fought for our freedoms as well. Banks McFadden, arguably the greatest athlete in Clemson history, served in the Air Force for over three years.
One of Clemson’s most respected coaches was Bob Jones. Jones, a Clemson football coach from 1931 through 1969, coached football, boxing, and golf while serving in the armed forces. He served in World War II from 1941 until 1946 and was honored with several medals.
Jones won the Silver Star, Bronze Star cluster, Purple Heart cluster, and the Legion of Merit. Jones retired from the military in 1965 as a Major General after 35 years of military service.
Air Force Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., a Clemson graduate of 1948, was an American instrument vital to avoiding a third World War. Anderson found himself in the middle of a crisis flying U-2 spy planes over Cuba.
Anderson’s reconnaissance missions, and those of other brave U-2 pilots, witnessed a buildup of Russian ballistic missiles in Cuba. The ensuing chess match, known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, took the world to the brink of disaster. As Anderson flew one last mission over Cuba, he was shot down over the eastern end of the island bringing an abrupt end to the threat.
The stadium the Tigers play in is called Clemson Memorial Stadium in remembrance of those Clemson alumni and students who lost their lives while serving to protect America’s freedom.
In 1943, the Clemson football team lost its entire junior and senior class to World War II as players volunteered to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Tigers went 2-6 that season as head coach Frank Howard could barely field a team.
When Clemson opened the season that year against Presbyterian College, nine freshmen started at the 11 positions in a 13-12 loss. That’s the last time PC beat the Tigers on the gridiron.
“It’s a special time and I try to take some time each year to try to educate our guys a little bit and get them to understand what their roots of this program are from a military standpoint,” Swinney said. “It’s a very proud university, and again, our people and administration do a phenomenal job of pulling it all together. It’s always very special.”
To learn more about Clemson’s Military History visit the Scroll of Honor Memorial which is located right across the street from Clemson Memorial Stadium at Memorial Park.