Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
CMU players run onto the field during pregame introductions with the 125th and 126th flags.
125th and 126th To Be Honored Friday in Military Night
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Over the past three football seasons Central Michigan has recognized the sacrifice and bravery of more than 1,200 soldiers in two Michigan-based military units who are scheduled to return from Afghanistan at the end of the month.

The 125th Infantry and 126th Cavalry regiments have strong local connections. The 125th has units in Flint, Saginaw, Alpena, Wyoming, Big Rapids and Bay City, while the 126th is from Wyoming, Cadillac, Manistee, Dowagiac and Lansing.

The partnership with the Chippewas, which started in 2009, is exhibited during what has become a pre-game tradition as the team runs out of the tunnel with an American flag and the regimental flags of the units, which are then displayed on the sideline throughout the game.

“Both units are with the team symbolically during the whole game,” Central Michigan Athletic Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing Nick Williams said. “The flags stay in the locker room with the team until they run out and stay on the sidelines during the game, then leave with the team when the game ends.”

Each week, different members of the team earn the honor of carrying the flags onto the field during pregame introductions.

“In the Army, the person who carries the flag is a protocol non-officer who has been recognized for doing something exemplary,” Williams said. “With the Chippewas, the coaches use the flags as a reward for players who have done something extra in practice, excelled in a game or their academics.”

On Friday, October 12, during CMU’s match-up with Navy, the two regiments will be recognized for their valiant efforts in serving our country. For this game, instead of CMU football players leading the team out with the flags, representatives chosen from the 125th Infantry and 126th Cavalry will have the honor and be acknowledged for their service.

In April 2007, the units began their training to be a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were deployed to Kuwait and Iraq serving as a Security Force (SECFOR) unit, providing security to distribution operations in Kuwait and Iraq. The units are now making their way home after supporting Operation Enduring Freedom for the past three years, but have been remembered throughout their service with a helmet sticker on all Chippewa helmets.

Throughout the past three seasons and beyond, CMU has shown appreciation of not only the 125th Infantry and 126th Cavalry, but of all military members and veterans. The Athletics Department has been a strong supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project, and has also built a close relationship with the CMU ROTC program. Since the 1980s the ROTC has contributed to the gameday experience at all CMU football games by firing the cannon after scoring plays, and has delivered the game ball to the field at the start of each game.

Friday, the military tradition will be honored with veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom, as well as representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project.