3/06/2008 08:36:00 AM

Damon Reaching Out To Veterans

Posted by Mark McCray |

Excerpts courtesy of Bryan Hoch at Yankees.com:

johnnysp Before Wednesday's exhibition game against the Twins, Damon accompanied three soldiers who recently returned from Iraq to the mound for ceremonial first pitches, drawing a standing ovation.

As Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Roeder (U.S. Navy), Capt. Jonathan Pruden (3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army) and Sgt. Jace Badia (1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army) threw baseballs to players behind home plate at Legends Field, Damon smiled with pride.

The son of a career Army NCO and Vietnam veteran, Damon has developed a lasting connection to the military, making time during his schedule to visit wounded soldiers around the country, engage them and listen to their stories. After Wednesday's game, he recruited as many teammates as possible to organize a visit to the Tampa VA Medical Center.

Chris Britton, Nick Green, Alan Horne and Ian Kennedy were among the players who visited the hospital, located about 20 minutes from Legends Field. Several of the wounded veterans recognized the Yankees, including Britton and Kennedy, who pitched in Wednesday's nationally televised game.

Fortunato said that Damon and the three veterans taped public-service announcements on Wednesday at Legends Field. The spots will air on national television and radio beginning in April and will also be shown before or during games at Yankee Stadium this season.

A salute to wounded servicemen and servicewomen is also planned for this season in the Bronx. More than 29,000 soldiers have been injured in the current war on terror, wounds that will retire them from military service.

"It's the least I can do," Damon said. "There are so many people that help me out to make my job easier. If I can lend my time to help these proud veterans out and make a difference, it is definitely worth it."


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