OKLAHOMA CITY – Miami Heat players and coaches were reminded about those who made the ultimate sacrifice when each met the Gold Star Family of the fallen hero whose name will be displayed on their uniform and sports coats for five games in observation of Veterans Day.
“It was amazing,” Hassan Whiteside said of meeting family members of Private First Class Bruce W. Carter, a Marine who died in Vietnam in 1969 when he was 19. “He basically jumped on a grenade to save four of his comrades.
“Amazing show of bravery.”
The patches and pins continue the Heat’s Home Strong initiative, in which the organization honors a member of the U.S. Armed Forces , who has returned home, at each home game throughout the season.
The Home Strong uniforms with the names will be displayed tonight at Oklahoma City, Thursday against the Bulls, Saturday against the Jazz, Nov. 14 at San Antonio and Nov. 15 against the Hawks.
“We feel great to be a part of this program,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Home Strong is something that’s been important to our organization for a long time. But now we’re actually meeting families who have lost loved ones. It’s just a very small that part we can play in this to let them know their lives have significance.
“It gives incredible meaning when you see the families.”
Spoelstra said meeting the family of U.S. Army Specialist Christopher M. Nguyen was emotional.
“It’s been a few years, but you still feel the loss the families are feeling and your hearts just go out to them,” he said. “That’s why we want to do whatever we can just to continue to show support and show that their lives had meaning and significance and they would be remembered even a few years later.”
When Goran Dragic met the family of U.S. Army Captain Josh M. McClimans, who was killed in 2011 while in Iraq, his young son placed his hand on the patch on Dragic’s uniform.
“It was really tough,” he said. “I met a family who lost their father and I met the son. I think he was 10 years old. Just to see the reaction of the family when I walked in and they saw the name on my jersey.
“The little fella came and rubbed on that patch. You can see they are going through some tough times.”