IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys didn't wait until their Military Appreciation Game on Sunday to begin honoring Veterans Day and the league's Salute to Service campaign.
Three USAA representatives and 30 Fort Hood soldiers from the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team "Long Knife" visited the Cowboys on Friday, including soldiers who were recently deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The soldiers arrived at Valley Ranch in the morning and were greeted by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. After touring the facility, they watched Friday's practice and interacted with the team afterward.
Troops entered the field during the stretching portion of practice for the huddle, during which Make-A-Wish guest Pablo also had a chance to meet and greet the team. Pablo, a 14-year-old lifelong Cowboys fan suffering from osteosarcoma, watched practice Friday and will be hosted by the Cowboys on Sunday for their game against the Browns.
The "Long Knife" brigade is currently serving as a Security Force Advisory and Assistance Brigade in Afghanistan and has served in an advise and assist role in Iraq in previous deployments.
Soldiers from across the nation will end up stationed at Fort Hood, including football fans from Texas like 1st Sgt. Carlos Lewis, who said he tries to watch the Cowboys every Sunday and was excited to see his favorite team up close.
"This year they stepped it up as far as the secondary," Lewis said. "The defensive line's always been good, but the secondary, they're showing up."
The NFL honors its veterans and active duty members of the military through the Salute to Service campaign every November, when teams designate home games as special military appreciation games.
The Salute to Service campaign aligns with the NFL's history of supporting America's armed services, including a partnership of more than 45 years with the USO that includes overseas visits to troops and trips to military hospitals nationwide. For every point scored during the NFL's 32 designated Salute to Service games, the league will donate $100 to each of its three core, military non-profit partners.