Indian Wells, CA -- The BNP Paribas Open, held annually in March, is a two-week combined professional tennis tournament consisting of the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour Masters 1000 and the Women’s Tennis Association Premier. It features the world’s top male and female professional players. For the past 15 years the tournament has also honored the nation’s service men and women.
“Salute to Heroes started in 2002 after 9/11,” said Brittany Trabert, event marketing manager, BNP Paribas Open. “We wanted to celebrate, recognize and honor all the service men and women as well as the first responders. We’ve carried on the tradition each and every year, and it’s something we really love doing because we’re so grateful for the work that everyone does for us.”
During the ceremony, approximately 100 students from Bravo Co., Communication Training Battalion, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, marched onto to the field to present the American flag. Immediately following their presentation, the Combat Center Color Guard presented the national and Marine Corps colors as the National Anthem rang through the stadium.
“I think it’s important for the community to see that the Marine Corps is representative of who they are and it’s important for Marines to see that the community that they defend supports them,” said Capt. Christopher Rock, data training platoon commander, MCCES. “It’s a very humbling experience to know that the people out here support the service members and they want to honor them.”
Following the presentation of the national and Marine Corps colors, Sgt. Rafael Fernandez and Cpl. Logan Winterstein, special intelligence system administrators, G-6 Communications and Information Systems, Headquarters Battalion and Cpl. Julian Guerrero, company clerk, Headquarters Battalion, were invited to the field to be honored individually as well as to flip the coin for the final tennis match.
“It was an honor to be able to come out here and represent the men and women who fight every day for us,” said Pfc. Francisco Vargas, student, MCCES. “Leaving from presenting the American flag and hearing everyone’s applause is just a feeling that no one else can replace, because you know how much people respect the men and women who fight for this country.”