The University of North Georgia (UNG) Department of Athletics has dedicated the 2015-16 competition year as tribute to the nation's armed services through the Operation Nighthawks of Honor initiative. Each of the university's sports teams will celebrate the men and women of our military, including paying tribute to 11 service members who are former or current UNG students.
"Operation Nighthawks of Honor is a special yearlong initiative that recognizes UNG's rich tradition of military excellence," said UNG Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves. "Our tight community of Nighthawks greatly respects and appreciates all that members of the armed services, past and present, sacrifice for our country."
The annual Military Appreciation Days at soccer, basketball, baseball and softball games also will take on the Operation Nighthawks of Honor theme. The first of these is set for Oct. 28 at the men's and women's soccer games. UNG hosts Peach Belt Conference opponent Lander University at the UNG Soccer Complex, located off Morrison Moore Parkway in Dahlonega. The women's game starts at 5 p.m. and the men play at 7:30 p.m.
Additionally, each of UNG's intercollegiate teams will pay a season-long tribute to a specific UNG service member. The teams will honor these heroes in a variety of ways, ranging from displaying a commemorative jersey at games, jersey patches worn by current players, initials on team hats and other acts of remembrance to honor those who have served our country.
The Operation Nighthawks of Honor honorees for 2015-16 are:
- Baseball: LTC Amzi R. Quillian (World War II)
- Basketball (Men): CPT Charles B. Johnson (Vietnam)
- Basketball (Women): CPT Jeremy A. Chandler (Afghanistan)
- Cross Country (Women): CPL Thomas Coggins (Afghanistan)
- Golf (Men): James E. Corley (World War II)
- Golf (Women): MAJ Kevin Jenrette (Afghanistan)
- Rifle: CPT William A. Branch (Vietnam)
- Soccer (Women): SGT Andrew McConnell (Afghanistan)
- Soccer (Men): SFC Charles H. Warren (Iraq)
- Softball: CPT Robert A. Thompson (Vietnam)
- Tennis (Men and women): MAJ John Rudolph Pearson (Vietnam)
Ten of those to be honored are former UNG students who were killed while serving their country in the armed forces; Coggins is a wounded veteran currently enrolled at UNG.
The final event of the year will be Operation Nighthawks of Honor Day on April 9, when the honorees and their families will be recognized before the UNG baseball team's 7 p.m. game with Young Harris. Some of the jerseys and mementos used by the Nighthawk teams throughout the year also will be raffled off in a silent auction; all proceeds benefit the UNG Corps of Cadets Endowment Fund.
One of only six federally designated senior military colleges in the nation, UNG is The Military College of Georgia and its nationally recognized Army ROTC program attracts students from across the state, region and nation. UNG has commissioned more than 50 general officers, 10 of whom are currently serving in a variety of command positions around the world.