Sovida Tran had a better setup on Saturday afternoon than he did during three deployments to Iraq that came when it was football season back in Nebraska.
This time he was sitting on a red folding chair 20 feet behind the Nebraska bench watching the Huskers play Northwestern. And he got to have his son, Sam, with him, thanks to an invitation to military units from the Nebraska athletic department.
Tran is in Army Reserve Unit No. 443. He lives in Lincoln and is originally from Crete.
How well you can follow the Huskers while serving your country is often out of your control.
“It depends on where you’re at,” Tran said. “Sometimes we have decent internet connection, and you’re able to buy through a website and get a little play-by-play window thing. Of course, there is an eight-hour time difference, so you’re up at 3 in the morning to ‘watch’ the game.’ And you can always look at the highlights the next day.”
Still, whatever taste of Husker football you can get can be the best part of the day.
“It’s a good touch base to home, especially for Nebraskans. This is us,” Tran said.
Saturday was Nebraska’s veteran and military appreciation game. About 50 members of the Army and Marines in uniform and family members were seated by the bench, and more active military and veterans got tickets elsewhere in the stadium courtesy of the athletic department.
Some fans approached the military members, thanking them for their service. During a military salute before the fourth quarter, Nebraska players and coaches stopped and clapped.
“It’s great that the college does this for us,” Tran said. “It’s good to get the recognition, and good to have the presence anymore. With today’s kind of climate, there is a little bit of divisiveness, so it’s good to be around the game, and enjoy the game.”
New AD attends first home game
New Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos was at his first home game since taking the job on Oct. 15. His first football game was last week at Purdue.
This was also his first time attending a game at Memorial Stadium.
Moose said he was impressed with the pageantry of the marching band and the hospitality of all the fans who greeted him.
“They haven’t even kicked the ball off yet, and I’m impressed,” Moos said.
Before the game, Moos greeted the gate sentinels, a group of 12 active military and veterans from several generations who were honored.
Moos, wearing a coat and tie, leaned in close to listen to a veteran in a wheelchair.
“That was a thrill for me,” Moos said. “My father was a decorated World War II combat veteran, and he would be very proud of me for taking the time to visit with each one of these gentlemen.”
Moos has spent his first two weeks on the job getting to know the coaches and athletic department staff, doing several interviews with media and attending a few events in Lincoln and Omaha.
“Next week we start going out to some of the rural locations, so I’ve got a lot of places and people to see yet, but it’s all been first-cabin so far, and I’ve been very impressed,” Moos said. “I really love the people.”