Sporting Kansas City will honor the service and sacrifice of military service members and their families on Saturday when the club hosts the third annual Sporting Salutes at Children’s Mercy Park.
Held in partnership with Hallmark and military units from Kansas and Missouri, Sporting Salutes is an immersive military appreciation night recognizing past and present service personnel and their families across all branches of the United States Armed Forces. The event will run in conjunction with Sporting’s home match against Real Salt Lake at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the contest are available at SeatGeek.com.
This year, Sporting Salutes will welcome 12 Purple Heart recipients to Children’s Mercy Park, all of whom were wounded during wartime. The venerated Purple Heart has been awarded since 1917 and remains a timeless symbol of service to the country. The 12 Purple Heart recipients to be honored before kickoff are highlighted in the space below. They include local servicemen and servicewomen who were wounded during combat operations spanning from the Korean War to the present.
U.S. Air Force Colonel
Clark spent nearly six years (2,170 days) as a Prisoner of War after he was forced to eject from his plane over North Vietnam during a combat mission on March 12, 1967. He received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Distinguished Flying Medal.
U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel
Cling served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, flying over 200 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam. On one mission during the Korean War, his plane was hit by enemy ground fire and he parachuted from the burning plane to land on the famous 38th Parallel.
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel
King, who recently returned from duty in Israel, was an apache helicopter pilot during the invasion of Iraq. He was wounded in the neck by enemy ground fire and suffered a severe hemorrhage during the initial air assault mission in 2003.
Oak Grove, Missouri
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman
Knox suffered damage to his lungs, upper back and collarbone area when he was shot April 26, 1967 while giving medical aide to a wounded Marine during their patrol of an enemy territory in Vietnam. He received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for saving lives.
U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant
Lockwood served on the U.S.S. Liberty as a Russian language expert when it was attacked on June 8, 1967 by Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats. He received the Silver Star for saving numerous lives.
U.S. Marine Corps Corporal
McClellan, the subject of the book My Miracle Marine, served in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2005, he was wounded twice in the same arm and, in 2006, he was shot in the head by a sniper. With extensive rehabilitation, McClellan is now working on his Master’s Degree at the University of Missouri.
U.S. Navy Corpsman
Pustka was injured in 1968 by a rocket-propelled grenade blast while shielding a wounded Marine with his body. He then shot and killed the North Vietnamese Army soldier who fired the rocket and later received the Silver Star for saving numerous lives.
Adriel “Brad” Sanchez
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal
Adriel was serving in his third deployment to Iraq when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device on June 5, 2005 while on patrol. He received wounds to his hands and face, and also suffered a severe concussion.
Kansas City, Kansas
U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 5
Schley served 22 Months in Vietnam from 1967-1969 and was wounded in the left arm and lower back with shrapnel during a rocket and mortar attack that killed two individuals. He went on to serve in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
St. Joseph, Missouri
U.S. Army Specialist 5
Shalz served as a medic in Vietnam and was wounded in the arm and leg by shrapnel from an enemy rocket. He received two Silver Stars and three Bronze Star Medals with Combat “V” for saving lives on the battlefield.
Baldwin City, Kansas
U.S. Army Specialist 4
Torkelson was wounded at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 during a domestic terrorism event. Her unit was preparing to deploy overseas when Torkelson was shot in the head and back in an attack that killed 13 people.
U.S. Navy Electrician Mate 2
Woelk was serving on the U.S.S. Pueblo when it was attacked and captured by North Korea on Jan. 28, 1968. He was wounded by enemy canon fire and received no medical treatment for 10 days. Woelk and his shipmates served as a Prisoners of War in North Korea for 11 months. He received two Purple Hearts and a POW Medal.