As Americans, we’ll never do enough to thank the military men and women for their service and sacrifice. All we can do is try and hope we come close.
To give it a shot and say thank you, the Blues welcomed Cpl. Justin McLoud and SSG. Joshua Eckhoff to Tuesday’s morning skate. Both Joshua Chamberlain Society heroes were injured while serving overseas and were presented with personalized camouflage jerseys from Blues captain David Backes.
“They’ve served our country and made great sacrifices so we can be free. They’ve given me an opportunity to play a game I love. I can’t thank them enough,” Backes said. “For them to come down to the morning skate and see smiles on their faces, it’s very rewarding for us."
McLoud and Eckhoff were given a tour of the Blues locker room, where they met the team and sat in on Ken Hitchcock's pregame press conference. In addition, they had lunch with broadcasters John Kelly, Darren Pang and Chris Kerber.
"It was definitely special,” McLoud said. “Right when I walked in, I saw those jerseys and I wanted one. (Backes) came out and had a jersey with my name on it. It made my day for sure.”
McLoud enlisted in the Marines and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A native of Missouri, McLoud served three tours of duty and in 2010, was nearby when a fellow Marine stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). As a result, both of his legs and his left arm were amputated.
Justin will drop the puck before tonight’s game.
Eckhoff is a Parkway South High School graduate. His unit was assigned to find and destroy explosive devices in Iraq to clear the way for other troops. On one of his clearing missions in 2008, the vehicle he was traveling in hit an IED, leaving Josh with severe head injuries. At first, Josh could not talk, eat or drink on his own, but has made tremendous progress and is continuing his recovery.
At tonight’s game, the Blues will do more to support the troops. Volunteers from H.E.R.O.E.S. Care will collect care packages for the troops at the door, and all fans that donate will receive raffle tickets for a chance to win great prizes. In addition, players will wear camouflaged jerseys during warm-ups tonight. Some of the jerseys will be auctioned online, while others will be sold in a silent auction at the game outside Section 119. Proceeds will benefit H.E.R.O.E.S. Care.
“I think everybody’s doing a good job (of thanking us), definitely more than what I think I deserve,” McLoud said. “I’m very appreciative of all the help I’ve gotten.”
To learn more about the Joshua Chamberlain Society, visit stl.chamberlainsociety.org.
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