Baseball and honoring veterans go together like a glove and bat for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
The 2015-16 Carolina League champion, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the reigning World Series winning Chicago Cubs will pitch their ultimate salute this Saturday night, in helping start the major events for the area’s annual “Military Appreciation Days” through May. The Pelicans will have their fourth annual “Military Appreciation Night” and Military Card Set Giveaway at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach. All active and retired military service personnel will receive a free ticket for this night when they show their ID at the box office.
The first 1,000 fans through the gates before first pitch at 7:05 p.m. will receive a “Military All-Stars” card set of 37 local veterans to be honored during the game against the Lynchburg Hillcats, a Cleveland Indians farm club from Virginia. Fireworks also will fly afterward.
Jen Brunson, the Pelicans’ senior director of community development, broke down the roster of veterans on the cards, each pictured on front with a biography on back: 19 from the Army; five Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force each; two with dual service – one with Army and Coast Guard Reserve, the other Army and Air Force; and one Army National Guard. That total number is 37 because one card touts a late husband and wife, a respective lieutenant colonel and captain, both of whom served in the Army during World War II.
The 36th and final card highlights Roger Pilcher of Myrtle Beach, a retired lieutenant colonel whose 28 years of service in the Marine Corps started during the Korean War and included a year of combat in Vietnam. A past president of the Military Officers Association of America, Grand Strand Chapter (grandstrandmoaa.com), Pilcher continues serving on the planning committee for Military Appreciation Days.
Pilcher said he had been asked by a committee colleague from the Pelicans why he wasn’t part of a previous military card set, but he wanted to see other fellow veterans featured. As for his landing in the 2017 packet, he said simply that it “was in the cards and meant to be.”
These annual card sets for a local community are “most unusual,” Pilcher said.
“I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this,” he said, agreeing that they let anyone hold local and world history in his or her hands.
Golf tourney scores for JROTC scholarships
Another sport commands Pilcher’s attention every May: golf. The registration deadline is this weekend – if space still available – for the local MOAA chapter’s annual Golf Tournament, which benefits college scholarships for Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps high school seniors, wounded warrior vacations in Myrtle Beach, and veterans outreach programs. The tourney is 2 p.m. May 26 at Legends Golf & Resort’s Heritage Club course in Pawleys Island. Sign up for $80 individual or $300 four-person team – with a $5 discount for veterans – at 843-314-0079 or 843-251-4051, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Pilcher said with JROTC programs at 19 area high schools across Horry and Georgetown counties, the hunt for a handful of $2,000 college scholarships for graduating seniors gets “very competitive,” because the applications include such accomplishments as each youth’s grade-point average, and their work in the community while in high school.]
“If you read the summaries from these kids,” Pilcher said, referring to a panel who grades all of them on a point scale, “it’s unreal what they have accomplished. They’re just fantastic.”
If more funds were raised beyond the annual largesse from this golf tourney with room for 144 players, “everyone would be a winner,” he said of the students, “no doubt about it.”
Dinner dance May 25 welcomes wounded warriors
Registration also continues for the annual “Military Appreciation Days Dinner/Dance,” with Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 925 Grand Strand (www.vva925.org). This night out, with music by Carolina Midnight, is 6 p.m. May 25 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, at Oak Street and 21st Avenue North. Tickets are $30, and the first 200 dinner dance tickets sold each come with a free Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ game ticket for this Saturday. Call 843-492-0005 or 843-457-7232.
Gary McCormick, an Air Force veteran and the chapter secretary, is coordinating the dinner dance with Ron Thornton, an Army veteran who heads the group’s honor guard.
Donations from “individuals and companies” for veterans attending this event have come “out of the woodwork,” McCormick said, grateful for gift baskets that will include a $100 gift card for a big-box retailer and a certificate good for four rounds of golf at a local course. A number of gift packages also will be distributed among the estimated 55-60 wounded warriors who will be welcomed for Memorial Day weekend by the “Scents for Soliders” charity at the convention center, all of whom are being given dinner dance tickets from the Vietnam veterans chapter, McCormick said.
After the chapter helped with five Military Appreciation Days events in 2015 for a 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, “our membership in our chapter almost doubled,” McCormick said.
The group is going all out to make this dinner dance stand out this year, McCormick said, calling it a “big welcome party” for the Scents for Soldiers special guests.
“We appreciate what they’ve done,” he said.
Richard Gregory, the chapter’s president, said the dinner dance is not just for Vietnam War veterans to reminisce, but give everyone in attendance to voice appreciation for the “guys and ladies” who have served in the war on terror in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan and continue recovering from their injuries.
“That’s what our chapter does,” Gregory said. “We’re there to help others.”
Ninth annual ‘Military Appreciation Days’
More details at 843-918-1014 or www.militaryappreciationdays.com:
▪ Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ fourth annual “Military Appreciation Night” and Military Card Set Giveaway (with first 1,000 fans thorugh gates to receive a card set of 37 local veterans to be honored during game), and with fireworks afterward, at 7:05 p.m. Saturday , against Cleveland Indians’ Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats affiliate, at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach (Enter parking lot from Robert Grissom Parkway). $9, $11 or $13 advance – and $2 more on game day. All active and retired military service personnel will receive a free ticket for this night when they show their ID at box office. Also, with ID at box office, discounts of $3 for military for all other games, and $3 “Locals Appreciation Saturday” for residents of Horry and Georgetown counties. 843-918-6000, 877-918-8499 (TIXX) or www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com.
▪ Registration deadline this weekend – if space still available – for Military Officers Association of America, Grand Strand Chapter, Golf Tournament, benefiting college scholarships for JROTC high school seniors, wounded warrior vacations in Myrtle Beach, and veterans outreach programs, May 26 – with registration and lunch at noon, and start 2 p.m. – at Legends Golf & Resort’s Heritage Club course in Pawleys Island. $80 individual or $300 four-person team, and $5 discount for veterans. 843-314-0079 or 843-251-4051, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, respectively. More details: grandstrandmoaa.com.
▪ Military Appreciation Days Dinner/Dance,” with Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 925 – and music by Carolina Midnight, 7:30-10:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. May 25 at Myrtle Beach Convention Center, at Oak Street and 21st Avenue North. $30 – also free Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ May 13 game tickets for first 200 dinner dance tickets sold, and free parking (savings of $5). This also is the welcome party for wounded service personnel being brought to Myrtle Beach by Scents for Soldiers. 843-492-0005, 843-457-7232 or www.vva925.org.
▪ Memorial Day weekend parade, 10:30 a.m. May 27 on Farrow Parkway, at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach, with Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos of Oregon – recipient of United States Army Soldier’s Medal and France’s Legion of Honour for his role in helping disarm a gunman on a Paris-bound train, and third-place finisher with Lindsay Arnold on 21st season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” – as grand marshal.
▪ Family Picnic – with activities, military exhibits, and music by Andrew Thielen Big Band – noon-2 p.m. May 27 in Myrtle Beach’s Valor Memorial Garden, at The Market Common.
▪ Memorial Day Veterans March with Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, 9 a.m. May 29, south on Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard between 16th and Ninth avenues North, with brief ceremony at former Pavilion site.
▪ Memorial Day ceremony, 11 a.m. May 29 (after mini-concert at 10:30 a.m. by Festive Brass of Myrtle Beach) at Myrtle Beach Convention Center Plaza, on Oak Street at 21st Avenue North.
▪ Memorial Day tribute film, 2 p.m. May 29 at Grand 14 Cinema, at The Market Common.
▪ Separate from aforementioned observances: “Letters Home” 90-minute play, about real-life connections to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2 and 7 p.m. May 29 – each with question-and-answer session with cast afterward – aboard USS Yorktown, at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum 40 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant. Free with reservations at www.patriotspoint.org/news-and-events/event/letters-home-play-memorial-day/. Parking $5. 843-884-2727.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.