HARRISONBURG, Va. - As part of James Madison University football's Military Appreciation Day Nov. 17, the Dukes will honor four former service members in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the Old Dominion pre-game, presented by nTelos Wireless. Local Wounded Warriors Corporal Frank Gephardt and Sergeant Timothy Compton of the U.S. Marine Corps, Captain William Durham of the U.S. Air Force and Sergeant Ernest Dean, Jr. of the U.S. Marine Corps and Army National Guard will take part in the nTelos Wireless coin toss prior to Saturday's kickoff.
The mission of WWP is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP is a nonprofit organization with the vision to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history.
"This is a very special day for our football program, athletic department and University as a whole," Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said. "This is our chance to be able to recognize and honor those who have served and given so much to our country. We are very humbled to have them join us and be a part of our pre-game ceremony."
Gephardt and Compton both served in Afghanistan with Gephardt serving in the search for anti-coalition forces before retiring in 2011 and Compton serving 12 years including recently returning from a tour in Afghanistan. Durham served nine years as an enlisted soldier and then was commissioned as an officer, serving during his time as a medic in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as well as deployments in Central and South America. Dean was in the Marines for six years and then in the Virginia Army National Guard for the last five, including a deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Gephardt currently lives in Harrisonburg with his family where he is an active member of several non-profit organizations that benefit service members and their families. Compton resides in Edinburg, Va., with his family and wants to attend JMU in psychology to work with veterans battling the psychological effects of war. Durham resides in Harrisonburg, where his wife Captain Mary Jayne is an instructor in the JMU ROTC program as well as having served multiple tours in Iraqi Freedom. Dean lives in Winchester with his wife, working for Veteran Reporters, a group of court and technology reporters that are all veterans, disabled veterans or caregivers of vets.
"We applaud the collegiate athletic directors for supporting our mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors," said Steve Nardizzi, executive director, Wounded Warrior Project. "Events like these are beneficial to everyone involved. We believe the fighting spirit and natural leadership abilities of Wounded Warriors can play a big role in motivating athletes, coaches, and communities. At the same time, these events pay public tribute to the sacrifices this generation of Wounded Warriors and their families have made. We also know, from our longstanding relationship with NACDA, the warriors honored gain confidence from attending these events."
Over 48,000 service members have been physically wounded during the current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands more are estimated to be recovering from invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
WWP Service Announcements will also be played throughout the game. For more information on WWP, please visit woundedwarriorproject.org.