US OPEN TO HOST SEVENTH ANNUAL MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY
Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and U.S. Army Veteran Johnnie Ashe, Brother of Arthur Ashe, to Participate in a Ceremonial Coin Toss and On-Court Tribute to the Late Tennis Legend
Multiple On-Court Acknowledgements and Participation Slated for the
Day and Night Sessions
FLUSHING, N.Y., Sep. 1, 2018 – The USTA today announced that it will host the seventh annual US Open Military Appreciation Day on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, at the 2018 US Open. Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams, the 60th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, will make an on-court appearance for a ceremonial coin toss; he also will present a flag that was flown at the USMA to U.S. Marine Veteran Johnnie Ashe, the younger brother of 1968 US Open champion Arthur Ashe. Arthur Ashe is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation, he served at the United States Military Academy at West Point as an assistant Tennis Coach.
The military contingent participating throughout the day will be honored and recognized for their sacrifice, bravery and courage in the line of duty, all witnessed by a capacity crowd of 24,000 fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Multiple coin toss ceremonies and in-stadium recognitions are slated for Arthur Ashe Stadium beginning with a U.S. Navy Veteran who currently participates in the USTA’s weekly tennis clinic for local veterans at the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. The second ceremonial coin toss on center court will be led by two World War II Veterans from New York, including 94-year-old Purple Heart Veteran Luke Gasparre, who is serving his 46th year as a US Open greeter, beginning with the U.S. National Championships in Forest Hills. He will be joined by Sy Bosworth, a 96-year-old Air Force and Signal Corps. Veteran, who took part in the D-Day operation, the Battle of Bulge, and participated in the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
In association with the Wounded Warrior Project, the US Open will honor four Wounded Warriors from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force during an in-stadium ceremony. The military contingent, all hailing from various cities throughout the country, will be treated to a day of tennis in a luxury suite inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The night sessions for Military Appreciation Day will kick off with a performance by USMA’s Master Sgt. MaryKay Messenger, who will sing the National Anthem with an appearance by the USMA Color Guard. The ceremonial coin toss will be led by Lt. Gen. Williams, and accompanied by West Point Head Men’s Tennis Coach, Jim Polling, along with the First Captain Cadet David Bindon.
In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the US Open, the event will honor Arthur Ashe’s service to our country in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant with an in-stadium tribute. Lt. Gen. Williams who was recently appointed as the U.S. Military Academy’s 60th Superintendent and first African-American, will present a flag to Johnnie Ashe, Arthur’s brother. In 1968 Johnnie volunteered for a second tour of duty in Vietnam, while Arthur attended West Point. This granted Arthur a greater opportunity to pursue his career in tennis.
To cap off the day, two U.S. Army Veterans, Firefighter Danial Santiago of Ladder 61 of the FDNY and Officer John Woo of the NYPD from the 32nd Precinct will have an opportunity to toss the coin just before the final match of the night session.
In support of the day’s celebration, Chase, a US Open sponsor, provided tickets to be distributed to various military-affiliated organizations to attend Military Appreciation Day, including veterans from the Northport VA medical center located in Northport, N.Y. In 2016, the USTA supported and approved the refurbishment of two tennis courts located on the campus of the Northport VA Medical Center. Chase donated tickets also went to Military Service men and women from USO of Metropolitan New York, and United War Veterans of NYC.