More than 20,000 National Guardsmen and their families recently gathered at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s University Park campus to attend Operation Salute. The 10-hour event, held Sept. 10 in honor of Pennsylvania’s Air National Guard and Army National Guard troops, consisted of formal ceremonies, entertainment and tailgating. Transport America, an Eagan, Minn.-based truckload carrier, showed its support for American troops by donating equipment for use during the event.
The Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, Maj. Gen. Jessica Wright, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and others served as guest speakers during the ceremony. Following words from guest speakers, the adjutant general read the names of fallen soldiers, whose families attended as guests of honor. “It was very emotional, very moving and all for a very good cause,” says Maj. Johnna Kohl, who coordinated tailgating festivities for a group of about 3,000 attendees. Her husband, Steven Kohl, is a manager at Transport America’s Mechanicsburg, Penn., service center.
Transport America supplied a 53-foot refrigerated trailer to store food for Kohl’s group, who was grateful to Transport America for its sponsorship. “As soldiers, we really depend on folks like Transport America for donations to put on events like this,” Kohl says. “Transport America was extremely generous.” The driver of the donated tractor-trailer, Jeff Grossman, participated as a volunteer during the event.
Operation Salute drew a tremendous response, marking the largest one-day mobilization of Pennsylvania’s National Guard troops in history. “All in all, it was a great day, to get to come together and recognize the sacrifices of our soldiers,” says Kohl. After the formal ceremony, Operation Salute continued with entertainment from several bands, including the Beach Boys and Craig Morgan.