MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- As spectators look on in anticipation of the next shot, signs begin to appear above the noise reading, “quiet please.” The crowd goes silent as the next golfer steps up to the tee. During that 1-2 minutes of silence, thoughts race through fans minds. Is he going to slice it? Can he reach the green from here? Is this person in the race for a victory?
With the last sound heard among the crowd being a loud ‘tink’ before an epic eruption, a small wave from the professional signifies another shot taken at the Professional Golfers’ Association of America Tour in La Quinta, Calif., Saturday.
On this particular day, golf is not the only thing on the agenda. The Humana Corporation partnered with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, who sponsor this annual Humana Challenge tournament, promoted values and benefits of good health and sustainable well-being to help people live life to the fullest.
With the undertone of health and wellbeing, military appreciation was also highlighted as Combat Center Marines and military veterans throughout Southern California were invited to attend a Military Appreciation Day.
“We’re proud to support the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families,” said Gino Lamont, news anchor, KMIR News Palm Springs. “We can’t give enough thanks for the priceless gift of freedom, and that is why we recognize everything that service members do.”
During the appreciation day, more than 50 Marines with the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School and military veterans received complimentary tournament admission. At the tournament, a tent was set up where the Marines and veterans could enjoy a free meal while watching the tournament.
Upon completion of the days round of golf, a military-appreciation ceremony was held on the 18th green of the course, where students and staff with MCCES formed and presented the colors.
While the Humana Corporation acknowledged all the Marines and veterans in attendance, a special gift was presented to a wounded combat veteran at the end of the ceremony.
A mortgage-free home in Indio, Calif., was presented to former Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Flores after his efforts in Afghanistan left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I can’t thank the military enough for all they have done, and continue to do,” said Flores. “My wife, son and I can’t thank all the organizations involved enough for presenting us with this home.”
The event, which honored all members of the Armed Forces and their families for the sacrifices they have made, also featured a Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft flyover during the ceremony.
“The Humana Challenge, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, has a wonderful history of honoring our nation’s true heroes,” said Tim McClain, Humana President of Government Business. “Given Bob Hope’s legacy and devotion to entertaining military troops, it is fitting to dedicate a day to honoring military personnel and their families. We are proud to grow this tradition by donating a 100 percent, mortgage-free home to a local veteran injured during combat, in conjunction with Military Warriors Support Foundation, for the second year in a row.”
For the MCCES students, the opportunity to be a part of something so charitable and extraordinary will leave a lasting impression on the rest of their careers and lives, according to Pvt. Andrew Yerkey, student, MCCES.
“I think this was a fantastic opportunity for me, and I enjoyed every part of it,” said Yerkey. “Everyone was very welcoming and respectful to all of us. Events like these make me want to be better and more motivated to go farther with my career.”
Events like these that bring the community closer together with the military build the grounds for a better relationship between the two, according to Sgt. Cory Smith, ground-radio repairman, MCCES.
“We are lucky here in Twentynine Palms to be able to get out with the community and do events like these,” Smith said. “I noticed that a lot of people stayed after the tournament to watch the ceremony, and that is why we do things like this, to bring everyone closer together.”