WILLMAR — Before the Willmar WarHawks host their Military Recognition Night, the players got a chance to meet with veterans Monday at Willmar VFW Post 1639.

Local military veterans had a chance to speak in front of the players about their time in the Armed Services to the roster full of young adults in their late teens-to-early 20s.

“Between us and the coaches they got over there, they wanted (the players) to not only have the Military Recognition Night but to be able to put a couple names and faces to people that were in the military,” said Bret Kasel, who served with the Army from 2001-09 and went to Iraq three times (2003, 06, 09). He has also filled in as the captain of the Honor Guard for the last month.

“It was good to sit down with some younger guys that may not know everything we know,” Kasel said. “To me, the big thing is, whether it’s Military Recognition Night or a family night, it’s bringing that community together that doesn’t necessarily know each other and meet someone new.”

On Saturday, Nov. 30, the Willmar WarHawks will host Military Recognition Night when the team hosts Granite City at 7:30 p.m. at the Willmar Civic Center. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
On Saturday, Nov. 30, the Willmar WarHawks will host Military Recognition Night when the team hosts Granite City at 7:30 p.m. at the Willmar Civic Center. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

To forward Dylan Svoboda, the talk of brotherhood and coming together resonated.

“A rising tide lifts all boats and that’s something I’ve been preached to since I was a little kid,” said Svoboda, an Austin native. “There’s always a leader and that leader has to lead the way and be a light for everyone else.”

During Saturday’s game against the Granite City Lumberjacks, the WarHawks will wear specialty military jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. Current and retired military members will be on hand for the Presentation of Colors, National Anthem, a video presentation and other ceremonies.

All U.S. Military members and veterans can get into the game for free by showing current military ID.

The WarHawks also host a home NA3HL game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against the first-place North Iowa Bulls.