With Ring of Fame linebacker Randy Gradishar as their escort, eight servicemen and women from Fort Carson were VIPs at training camp Wednesday at Dove Valley.
Capt. Derick Hoy, Sgt. Peter Kieliszewski, Sgt. Robert Howe, Cpl. Sara Johns and Spc. Chris Kewilecki, Spc. Katherine Prince, Spc. Amanda Cox and Spc. Maurice Cox were on hand to take in practice and meet some players and executives.
Owner and CEO Pat Bowlen, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, Head Coach John Fox and players including quarterback Peyton Manning all greeted the soldiers and signed autographs.
“From the owner to John Elway to several of the players and then with Randy Gradishar escorting us around, it’s been an overall good experience,” Kieliszewski said.
Two different battalions were represented at Dove Valley — the Warrior Transition Battalion and the 759th MP Battalion.
“It’s certainly a privilege to be able to help support our soldiers and particularly down in Fort Carson,” Gradishar said. “The Broncos certainly have gone out of their way to make them feel very welcomed.”
Gradishar has made visits to soldiers in several different countries in the Middle East and said that is a result of his “great appreciation for their sacrifice.”
Not all of the soldiers in attendance Wednesday were Broncos fans – Amanda Cox claimed to be a Patriots fan and Kieliszewski, a Packers fan. But today, Kieliszewski had a Broncos pin on his uniform.
“(It hurts) a little bit,” he joked, “but I would do that for Randy. He asked very nicely.”
Gradishar said that he plans on bringing eight to 12 servicemen and women from Fort Carson to each of the next 10 or so practices.
“We appreciate the Broncos,” Gradishar said. “Mr. Bowlen was talking to them, some of the players came over, Coach Fox came over, John (Elway) shook their hands – just a great welcome. It just makes us all feel good and hopefully it makes them feel good.”