Each Sunday home game, the Rays are proud to salute the local family of an active service man or woman who is serving in Iraq. Through an arrangement with a video services unit of the US Army, we have obtained greetings recorded in Baghdad from the respective personnel and most times the families are unaware until they see it on the big RaysVision Board. The response of the fans attending the game when they see the family live on the board at the stadium following the greeting, has been fantastic. We have received a multitude of thanks from the families and service personnel involved. Several times we have had the personnel home on emergency leave so the camera has come up on them live and we announce that they are to return to Iraq in "x" number of days. One of the personnel had just gotten his tour of duty over and he was here for the first time as a civilian with his 2-year-old adopted daughter (from China). He was thanked for his service by us and the crowd.
The Rays have also featured several games where specific armed services are honored and one night where they all were in the spotlight. One saw a member of the respective service live on RaysVision in the half innings (several times with their kids) in uniform. Col. Robert Thomas, Commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill AFB, threw out the first pitch that night and there were static displays from the various services inside and out at Tropicana Field.
Every home game, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union and Florida Blood Services sponsor MacDillville behind the bullpen down the first base line. In cooperation with the Rays, the various commands at MacDill Air Force Base are given 24 tickets for each game. These are used for returning personnel assigned to the base, personnel returning from deployment, families of deployed personnel and staff. The ribbon cutting featured General Timothy Ghormley, Vice Commander CentCom. It's a way for Grow Financial Credit Union, Florida Blood Services and the Rays to say "thanks" to those who serve our country and protect our rights to freedom.