BELTON — Soldiers and family members from the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade were invited here at Crusader Stadium Nov. 7 to honor veterans during the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Military Appreciation Day as they played Howard Payne University.

In tribute to military men and women, the university has held this event for the last five years, offering free admission to the games for soldiers and their family members, as well as concession tickets for free food and drinks.

UMHB and the “Wagonmasters” Brigade have a partnership with one another, but this event was open to all branches of the military and their families to come out and enjoy the game.

Col. Christopher Colavita, commander of the brigade, was invited to speak to the UMHB football team prior to kickoff.

Colavita said the Crusaders football program and the military are similar, as both display leadership qualities and overcome adversity by continuously working hard.

“I know what character looks like; I know what commitment is; I know what strong ethical values look like, and I know that because my organization fosters the same thing.” Colavita said to the team.

“We want more from you today — we want you to dominate.”

Before the game commenced, Colavita and Command Sgt. Maj, Jill Crosby, the brigade’s senior enlisted advisor, performed the coin toss using the brigade’s coin.

The pregame prayer was spoken by the brigade’s chaplain, Maj. Roderick Swanson.

During the halftime show, soldiers interacted with students in an attempt to break a record by performing military pushups to bring awareness for the Hope for the Hungry charity.

With the UMHB Crusaders leading the game going into halftime, brigade soldier Spc. Perris Goggins stood in the end zone and gave his girlfriend a special surprise.

Goggins took a knee and pulled out a box from his pocket and asked his girlfriend for her hand in marriage.

With a tear in her eye, she said yes.

The game concluded with the Crusaders winning 67-14 against HPU, a world-record broken, and a new love kindled.

“I enjoyed it very much,” said Sgt. Michel Harmon. “The atmosphere was great and the staff members made it feel like a family oriented event. I’ll definitely do this again.”

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