10thMountainFire’s Story

10thMountainFire posted this as a comment in our morning links. But we thought it deserved its own post. If you’ve been wondering lately after the lockout why you bother, this should remind you pretty firmly. And we as well would like to thank him for his service, as well as making the three of us extremely proud of what we do here, no matter how silly it can seem at times.

Please excuse this post, especially the length… but I love you guys here and I want to share something that means a lot to me as a Hawks fan.

Last night I had one of the most incredible and surreal experiences of my life and I’m compelled to leave it here in order to reinforce the idea we have about what a special organization the Chicago Blackhawks are.

In 2009, while on deployment, my family placed me on a waiting list for the USO’s spot to honor veterans next to Jim Cornelison during The National Anthem. I was called last week, as my last week in the Army came to a close, and informed that I was chosen for the Detroit game. To say this is an honor is to truly understate what this experience is. It is indescribable; every Hawks fan in the building thanks you for your service. They offer you beers. They truly are interested in your experiences and grateful for the service of the serviceman/woman.

When I arrived, I was treated like a returning Roman warrior; I was parked next to the stadium and brought in through a special entrance. Everyone treated me with incredible respect… from the parking attendants to the in-stadium personnel and fans. I was ashamed that other men and women I served with were not going to have this experience and I felt guilty at times.

When I reported to the ice area to go out with Mr. Cornelison, I was informed that I would be accompanied by a WWII Marine Corps veteran in a wheel chair. When we got on the ice, they situated me next to Mr. Cornelison, to the left of the Marine. At this point the Marine decided he wanted to stand for The Anthem and present arms. So I assisted him out of his chair and held him as he saluted throughout Then Anthem. It was an honor I can never hope to duplicate.

I was seated in section 104 with a group of Detroit fans in front of us, having traveled to Chicago to see the Wings. They were loud, supportive of their team, and gregarious. During the second intermission, one of their relatives, in a Hawks sweater, came over to me and engaged me in a conversation that began by asking me where I had deployed to (multiple times to Afghanistan). As the conversation progressed, he let me know that he had come to the US from Iraq in 1978. He was holding a beer, having a great time, and cheering on the Hawks against his relatives from Detroit. I quickly became aware that this interaction specifically, and the night generally, would be among the great experiences that I will recall at the end of my life: a soldier being treated like gold, sitting with Iraqi-Americans, cheering hockey while drinking beer and roaring for the Anthem and the Hawks. I have never felt more appreciated as an American soldier.

The Chicago Blackhawks do this with little recognition; but soldiers all over the world last night were tuned in because I let them know what was about to happen. I told them I was there not for me but for the men and women we served with that didn’t come home and couldn’t be there, those who are out of the ranks now and recovering from wounds anonymously, and those that still walk the post ensuring our safety and security.

A final note: last April, SSG Dave Nowaczyk, a Hawks fan who I served with at 10th Mountain in Kunar and Nuristan in 2009, was killed on his third trip to Kunar in the village of Pashad in Sarkani District. Other than the initial television notification, not enough Americans are aware that he lived and served… but he was part of our family of Hawks fans and he wasn’t there to see Soldiers and Marines honored like that last night. Guys like that made it possible for me to experience that. And for that, I’m grateful.

The Chicago Blackhawks are the best organization in sports. Soldiers now all around the world, seeing the Anthem display last night, now know that. We’re global. Go Hawks.

Edit: I should note that this was my last official wearing of the uniform.

  • Unknown Operator

    this is an awesome story. thank you for your service. cheers to you.

  • DaveM36

    A night well-deserved. Great story and thanks for sharing.

  • pompoon

    That was an awesome story, 10thMountainFire. Thank you for your service, and thanks for sharing the story!

  • justforkicks

    Thanks again for your service and for sharing this story.

  • TheFullAmonte

    Thanks for your service. I cannot imagine how awesome of a night that would be. Very well deserved by you and all veterans who are honored. Thanks for sharing.

  • MrBill21

    Was at the game last night, that was quite an anthem. The old guy looked like he was having a great time and I noticed you helping him. My dad served in the Korean conflict and has had season tix for the last 30 years, how do I go about getting him out there?

    • ahnfire

      I don’t know for sure, but you should try contacting the USO of IL (http://usoofillinois.org/contact/). I’d recommend contacting the person in charge of special events & projects; they’d probably be able to lead you to the proper people to get your dad on the wait list of veterans to be honored 🙂

      • MrBill21

        OK great, thanks.

        William C. Hermann
        Chapman and Cutler LLP
        111 West Monroe Street
        Chicago, Illinois 60603
        Ph: 312-845-3895
        Direct Fax: 312-516-1895
        Cell: 312-218-2113
        e-mail: whermann@chapman.com

  • Wow! Tingling! Good thing you didn’t decided to drop the NHL this year like TMFF!

    For thew record, the only reason we don’t honor you before each game by having you standing while they present arms is because you’d also present legs and underwear.

  • Mohel

    Awesome story, 10th! I’m glad you were able to have that experience, and I’m sorry others were not able to do so. From what you wrote, you are the definition of a man and an American. Godspeed.

  • Accipiter

    Very moving and well deserved. An experience you will remember forever.

  • OMFS88

    Glad you got to enjoy that, I am happy to say that I clapped loudly each time you came on the jumbo tron. Thanks for your service.

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    Thanks for your service and for this wonderful story.

  • BodomSlayer

    Thank you for service and dedication to this country. This story was incredibly moving and I’m glad you were able to enjoy such an amazing experience. Thank you again.

    • DSO Avatar for the win.

      • BodomSlayer

        You know, man. I was just thinking about you the other day. I remember you posted your bands stuff in an old thread. Not to steal 10thmountainfires story or anything….Are you on Face Page or some other medium I could talk to you about some metal stuff aside from here?

        • Yes I am on that lame-o site. Whats you’re name on there I’ll add you. (I’m not searchable on there for personal reasons)

          • BodomSlayer

            Matt Skierkiewicz

          • Added you. Young Werther is my name on there

          • BodomSlayer

            May not have been me because I have nothing lol. My cover picture is the same as my avatar here.

          • I shall try again

  • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

    What a great story. Thank you.

    For the rest of us, make sure you UPSTAR the hell out of this post (start above and to the right of the comment box). 

  • The_FFF

    Thank you so much for service, and for sharing this story! What an experience!

  • derlemke

    As a former marine this story is very touching. Thank you for sharing this. I was teary eyed when I saw the soldier standing with the WWII vet. It’s extra special now because it was you.

  • jekyll1489

    10th MTN:

    I wanted to let you know how proud of you I am. I watched the game last night, and as I was watching the anthem, I noticed that the current soldier was not saluting. I had a flash of anger, and then I saw that the soldier was supporting the veteran so he could salute.

    One day you will be that vet struggling to stand, giving your all so that you can show proper respect to the nation you fought for, and there will be some soldier there to help you do it.

    I cannot thank you enough for your service to our country, and our community here. Good luck in your civilian life, brother.

  • Paul the Fossil

    What an amazing story, thanks for sharing it.

    I unfortunately happened to be in the car yesterday and missed seeing the anthem…a quick look through the team website didn’t turn up any video. Does anybody know if clips of the Hawks’ anthems as broadcast on TV are archived anyplace?

    • ahnfire

      I was able to get the video; I’ll see if I can find a way of putting it up so people can watch.

  • stacie7

    Wish I would have know that was you 10th Mountain. I noticed that you were helping the Marine and I thought to myself just how sweet that was and just how nice it is that the military folk not only look out for us but for each other too. I’m glad your time at the game was a wonderful experience and thank you for all of your years of service.

  • Ben Togtman

    Here’s a screen shot at least, for those who missed the anthem.

    • HungryHungryPanda

      Also it’s me, HHP. No idea why my actual name showed up there, but now you know I’m a real person with a real name. Love the new site, and this is a great story.

      • The_FFF

        Well, at first for me it was showing your real name but no screenshot. After I refreshed, it showed HHP and the screenshot. Disqus moves in mysterious ways.

    • We now have a featured image for this post. Thanks.

  • QCBlackhawk

    Had no clue that was you, either. Glad the experience made you feel honored, and thanks for your service!

  • Bartl

    Shared this story with our followers on Cheer the Anthem’s Facebook page. Any asshole who has a problem with the tradition should reference this. Thanks for your service, 10thMountainFire.

  • Bethany BlueEyez

    I shared this on my FB feed. Proud of you and all of our soldiers. My grandfather was a WWII veteran. Bravo to you! Bravo to our Blackhawks too!

  • AirTrafficAJ

    This is awesome beyond words. Congratulations to you and all your brethren for your unbelievable service.

    That being said, you don’t look anything like Chuck Norris, which is how I always pictured you in my brain.

  • DesertHawk

    Awesome sauce 10th. Retired now, or just finished? Any idea what’s next in line?

  • Skags

    This is great. I saw you standing there live, and as I watched I thought how cool it was that you were helping that man. I don’t have the ability to convey how thankful I am that you served and how appreciative I am of the Hawks that they do stuff like this for you.

    Hearing how awesome it was from your perspective choked me up a little. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch or hear the national anthem the same way again.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this all out.

  • cliffkoroll

    Way to represent 10th!

  • RightWired


  • maxoff

    This is good stuff. Love hearing from your perspective. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

  • Thanks for sharing. Amazing, genuine note. Brought tears to my eyes.

  • JPJohnny

    Thank you from our family!

  • YouFeelShame

    That’s a good read. Thank you!

  • puppetmasterp

    Hey, I’m so glad to know that was you! I was at the game too, my first (and possibly only) game of the season, so it makes it doubly special that one of the honorees was someone I’ve “met”, even if not in real life. Glad you had such a great time, and got to watch a good game to boot.

  • Z-man19

    Thanks for sharing your story 10th and thank you for your service.

  • Jess

    As a military wife this tugs on every heart string I possess. So damn proud to be an American and so damn proud to be a Hawks fan.

  • Black JEM

    We all owe you thanks for your service, as well as helping out another serviceman. Well done.

  • Max Sterling

    What a wonderful story! Glad to hear the Blackhawks are treating the troops right!

  • Preacher

    It’s freaking dusty in here! Or my allergies must be acting up…. Thanks for your service and for sharing this story, 10th.

  • BanjoLegs

    From the bottom of my Banjo Leggin’ heat, thank you for your service.

  • chosin_ghost

    Dont let 10thmountainfire be humble, I served with him on a tour in Afghanistan in 2009 and his quality of work was THE reason we were so successful. He served in some of the most brutal terrain and in the most brutal area of Afghanistan during the bloodiest year of the war. I’m speaking for all former soldiers who have served along side him in saying that you earned this night and we are all very proud of you. Thank you for your service and thank you for giving us the privelidge of serving with you, you will no doubt go down in history as one of the great Americans of our generation.

    • Mohel

      What a great testament; thank you for sharing it with us.

  • BanjoLegs

    From the bottom of my Banjo Leggin’ heart, thank you for your service.

    • DesertHawk

      You can edit your comments senor.

  • chijim

    What a great story. Thanks for your service.

  • detroit must die

    Congratulations to 10thMountain on a once in a lifetime experience that he more than deserves!

    Also, this only reinforces my pride in being a fan of this franchise. It’s also a great reminder that, for all of their foilables, Rocky and McD are absolutely hitting the nail on its head with some of the most important things.

  • kcrvpn

    That is awesome, and well deserved.

  • KingTalkyTiki

    From a peacetime vet, well done soldier. Thank you for your service, your dedication and the hundreds of untold sacrifices you made. Hooah! Mission accomplished.

  • steeg of their own

    What an amazing story! I’m so glad that 10thMountainFire got called to do this when he did, and he totally deserves it.

    I actually watched the game with my grandfather, a WWII Marine of the 1st Parachute Battalion who noticed the standing arrangements, and was very proud to point out that his Marine comrade saluted through the anthem, and was grateful to see the “young Army fellow” (his words, not mine) who helped him.

    I’m so glad you got this chance, dude.

  • happyhuman

    Awesome. Thank you for your service.

  • eminemilie

    So amazing. Thank you.

  • flavius

    Thanks for sharing that and thanks especially for your service.

  • CozBullsFan

    Thank you for your service 10thMountain.

  • From an ex (never really an ex) Cav Trooper- OOH RAH!

  • bighoss

    thankyou 10thmountain for all that you have done

  • Rachel Nowaczyk

    Thank you for mentioning Dave. I remember being in labor with our daughter Kiley in 2010 and he wouldn’t leave the house till the game was over!! Kiley’s newborn pictures with Dave were taken with him in a Blackhawks shirt!!

    • ahnfire

      Thank you for not only your husband’s service & sacrifice, but for your service and sacrifice as part of the military family.

    • steeg of their own

      It feels really, really, really inadequate to say thanks because how could that ever be adequate, but still I feel like I need to say something, so. Thank you. I don’t even know how to express what I should (sorry about that). But yes. Thank you.

  • red palace

    I’m so grateful you are on our side. Thank you 10thMountainFire.

  • Sam

    Just the fact that you felt guilty that every soldier could not have this opportunity, and had your fellow soldiers constantly in mind, shows what an amazing person you really are. I’m so proud that you are a fellow Hawks fan. Thank you.

  • chidiver

    I’ve been sitting here for 20 minutes trying to think of what to say (dusty in here too!). “Thank you” just doesn’t even crack the surface of the depth of my gratitude for the sacrifices made by you, your comrades and your families during these last 12+ years. Churchill’s line “never was so much owed by so many to so few” comes to mind as being very fitting when I reflect on it.

    I’m so happy you were able to end your military service on such a high “note”

  • Toews still makes funny faces!

    I have no idea what to say.

    Bravo-Zulu, I am glad you shard this, I really am at a loss of words.

  • RWCrum

    I started to tear up reading the article and now after reading all the comments I’ve got tears streaming down my face. All I can come up with is THANK YOU.

  • 10thMountainFire


    I am simply at a loss for words to describe the humbling experience this has been. I hope every soldier has an opportunity such as this to feel how everyone feels about service and sacrifice. I didn’t want to do anything to misrepresent or dishonor the uniform because a soldier is supposed to leave the uniform in the same shape he found it in when he enlisted: in honor. Other, better men and women have come before us to make that uniform the honorable symbol that it is and we are charged with ensuring it remains that when we leave.

    To the Holy Trinity here at TCI, thank you for doing this. I was shocked to see this as a post here- a site I live by- and further shocked so much by the comments below that I didn’t know how to respond, so I held off. You three have created something incredible here and nothing shows your hearts more than this did to me today. Thanks for what you do.

    I have no way of properly conveying my admiration, respect, and thanks to all of my fellow Hawks fans for what I have seen you do at the UC and here in commenting in the last 24 hours. I am humbled beyond description at the honor of standing with that Marine and for representing all of my fellow servicemen and women to render honors to The Anthem next to Jim Cornelison. That Marine is part of a generation that saved humanity and to assist him in being honored the way he should be is something I’ll never be able to match. And the experience in the stands and here at TCI just further reinforces my faith in the American people… and specifically who Hawks fans are. Truly, we are part of a special organization and a special group of fans. Thank you from the bottom of my soul for how you all have reacted to the post. I don’t want to drag this out… but I did want to ensure that I communicated to you all how much it means to be treated this way. Every last second of service in the US Army was an honor and you have all reminded me that the sacrifices of good men and women in uniform are for exemplary reasons: all of you.

    I hope that Ms. Nowaczyk was not adversely affected today by my mentioning of Dave; he is a true American hero and I believe that Americans should know of his sacrifice for us all.

    To all of my fellow TCI members: thank you for comprising the greatest fan base in sports. That’s no hyperbole. You have given me a life-changing experience that I will never forget. All of your comments tugged my heart very urgently. I’m happy beyond words to have been so fortunate. Thank you all.

    • ahnfire

      awww 10th, you sap 😀


    • 334Rules

      10th, I just wish you would have told us about this BEFORE the game. I would have been honored to shake your hand, and would have crawled down from Sec 334 to do so (along with a whole bunch of my compatriots up there). I feel like I know you a little (along with so many other from SCH and now TCI) from all our posts over the years, and I can tell you — as I’ve told everyone that I’ve seen share this on FB (and there’ve been a lot), that in addition to bringing honor to your uniform and your country, you bring a great sense of humor and insight to your fellow hockey fans. God bless you and all of your brothers and sisters in arms, we cannot thank YOU enough.

  • Jarhead24

    As a Marine we always bust chops with the Army but I Have to say I was Proud To Be An American watching what happened during the Anthem and I say Thank You from a fellow Veteran!

  • Patti Nowaczyk

    Thank you for your service to our country. We truly appreciate all of the sacrifices you have made to keep our country safe. Also, thank you for mentioning my son’s name, SSG David Nowaczyk. He would have been honored that you thought of him. Thank you.

  • MattC86

    Thanks for your service, 10th. Climb to Glory!

  • tlite80

    thank you for your service.

  • Woods

    Thank you 10thMountainFire for your service, and for all of those you served with. Deeply honored that you’re able to share this experience with us here on this website.

  • Andrew Nowaczyk

    Thank you for everything

  • Tony O!

    Thank for sharing that Sam. Outstanding!

  • Judi

    1st. Thank you for your service. 2nd I was there at that game. My father is the Marine in that picture. It was awesome and he so loved it. Thank you again. Could I get that picture or any of the footage?

    • 10thMountainFire

      I apologize for the delay in responding. I should be getting a DVD from the Chicago Blackhawks in the coming weeks. If your father does not receive one, I would be happy to find a way to duplicate it and send it your way.

      I was honored to stand with your father on the ice and render honors to the colors. It was a moving experience for me and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share it with him.