By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., May 6, 2015 – The military’s top enlisted leader joined the PGA Tour and The Players Championship in honoring the nation’s service members during a military appreciation day ceremony and concert here yesterday.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to thousands of spectators during the tournament’s ceremony at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse.
Battaglia was joined by Navy Adm. Philip S. Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem before the crowd was treated to a concert from country music duo Big and Rich.
“I am truly honored to join you on this beautiful Florida evening as we are, ladies and gentlemen, setting this week’s stage for what will be nothing short of a terrific and exciting 2015 Players Championship,” the sergeant major said. “We in the armed forces never shy away from a little bit of competition as well, [and] it’s why we love being here. The Tour players in this sport bring out the very best in competition, sportsmanship and athletic talent.”
Appreciation for Support
Battaglia said service members, veterans and retirees in attendance and those watching the broadcast from afar are “deeply appreciative” of how the PGA Tour and nonprofit organization “Birdies from the Brave” support the U.S. military. He added that he also remembers PGA Tour players who joined previous USO tours to visit troops overseas in some “pretty contested areas, where it truly allowed them to see what it looks like [and] what it feels like on the other end.”
“I want you to know that you and your players have a standing invitation,” he said, “and when ready, we will get you out to the ‘tip of the spear’ to see our troops, as you have allowed us to see some of the tour talent at TPCs across the country.”
Battaglia also gave what he called a “special shout-out” to the nation’s wounded warriors, their caregivers, Gold Star families and fallen troops.
“Their service is a true testament to the tenacity of our military,” he said, “and the greatness to our country -- the United States of America -- and we’re all proud of them.”
The sergeant major said he could tell the audience was “proud of our country,” and he concluded his remarks by leading the crowd in loud chants of “USA! All the way!”