8th TSC Soldiers caddie for Sony Open in Hawaii

| January 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Service members volunteering during the Sony Open in Hawaii meet some of professional golfs biggest stars, including 2015 PGA Player of the Year Jordan Speith (right), at Waialae Country Club. (Photos by Staff Sgt. John Portela, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. John Portela
8th Theater Sustainment Command
Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Fourteen Soldiers from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command had the opportunity to caddie the 18th hole for the Sony Open in Hawaii, Jan. 10, at the Waialae Country Club as part of the Birdies for the Brave program.

“It was pretty unique. I never got up close and personal with the pros,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Golonski, platoon leader for the 561st Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade. “I only see them on TV. It was pretty cool getting to talk to them about normal things. It kind of puts it in perspective; they’re just a bunch of normal guys.”

Birdies for the Brave is a national military outreach initiative dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families.

Golf star Jordan Speith imagines playing the 18th hole while a Birdies for the Brave participant looks on, during the Sony Open in Hawaii, Jan. 10. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. John Portela)

In 2004, Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, created the program to support combat-wounded veterans. The PGA Tour adopted the program and expanded it to include a wide variety of military outreach and appreciation activities during PGA Tour events.

“This was probably my favorite day in Hawaii, so far, two years in,” said Spc. Corey McMullin, an intelligence analyst in the 8th TSC G-2.

This year was the 20th anniversary of the Sony Open in Hawaii, and the seventh consecutive year that the Birdies for the Brave Military Caddie program was presented by Pasha Hawaii. While the Soldiers took turns caddying, they also had lots of time to collect autographs and get to know the players and their professional caddies.

Active-duty volunteers caddie for golf professionals including former British Open champion Stewart Cink, above, at the Waialae Country Club, Jan. 10. (Photo by Staff Sgt. John Portela, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

“Just the experience of being here, and to see what this event looks like, as well as being able to tell our story to the golfers has been great. A lot of them don’t know what we do in protecting our country, so they really appreciate hearing about it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Poetsch, 8th TSC, Human Resources Sustainment Center, noncommissioned officer in charge.

As the players and their caddies entered the 18th fairway tee box, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric Geraci, the military liaison for the U.S. Army and Pasha Hawaii, greeted the players and introduced each Soldier by name. The service members then relieved the players’ regular caddies of their bags and acted as real caddies for the 18th hole.

“It was a great opportunity to actually be one-on-one with the pro golfers, just talking to them like a normal person. They didn’t treat me any differently, so that was probably the best part of it,” said Staff Sgt. Oscar Hernandez, a motor sergeant for the 561st Eng. Company, 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

Birdies for the Brave volunteers pose with a professional golfer Kevin Na. Soldiers of the 8th TSC, including the 8th MP Bde. and 130th Eng. Brigade, had the opportunity to caddie the 18th hole for the Sony Open in Honolulu, Jan. 10.

“Any Soldiers, next year, should definitely sign up for it. It’s an experience you don’t get to do normally just anywhere, so take a chance, it’s a good experience to have.”

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Category: Community, Community Relations

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