By: Taja Johnson, Follow South Jersey Intern
GLASSBORO, N.J. – In a chilly yet heartwarming evening, Rowan University hosted a spectacular Military Appreciation football game against William Paterson University on Nov. 10, uniting the community in a celebration of service and camaraderie.
The night kicked off with the aromatic waft of food truck delights as lines of eager attendees braved the cold to place their orders. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement, complemented by spirited cheers from the cheerleaders and dynamic tunes from the university band. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) made a striking appearance, showcasing their precision in a moving color guard performance.
Amidst the festivities, the military office set up tables to honor guests. Beth Sonoski, coordinator of the military department and certifying official, along with Connie Van Pelt, the secondary certifying official, were at the forefront, offering military-themed apparel for sale. The proceeds from the sale of shirts, bracelets, and headbands supported military students and the department. Speaking about the event’s significance, Sonoski expressed, “We are celebrating our service members here at Rowan and across the country.”
Van Pelt highlighted their role in supporting military students, stating, “We support the military by processing military benefits. Tonight, we are selling Rowan apparel that is military-themed, and the only office that can sell the fatigue logo. All of the proceeds go to regalia for those military students that are graduating.”
The event drew support from students like Matthew O’Laughlin, a member of the US Army and a student at Rowan. O’Laughlin emphasized the importance of the ROTC program.
“Military ROTC is a pathway to become an Army Officer once you earn your bachelor’s, then you can earn commission,” O;Laughlin said. “Once I graduate, I am looking to go right away. Most of us are already enlisted and looking to go officer through this program.”
US Marine Veteran David Armor, a standout among the vendors at Rowan University’s football game, brings a unique blend of military service and musical talent to the event. Raised in a musically inclined family, Armor learned the art of harmonizing tunes at an early age, fostering a deep connection to music. At the game, he showcased his musical prowess through $10 CDs that he personally created, with all proceeds dedicated to supporting the Mantua VFW and its initiatives benefiting veterans. Armor’s annual tradition of crafting these CDs reflects his unwavering commitment to giving back to the veteran community.
“I do this every year to try and support and help out,” Armor said. “I also would like to pass this along to my grandchildren,” highlighting the intergenerational aspect of his philanthropy and a desire to instill a sense of service in future generations.
On the field, Rowan University continued the night’s success, triumphing over William Paterson University with a final score of 24-14. The victory added to the jubilant atmosphere, making the Military Appreciation Night an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.
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