Happy New Year! Coast Guard rings in 2015 at NHL game

Members of all the U.S. military services participate during the opening ceremony during the NHL’s Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. The U.S. Army Choir and U.S. Army Band performed the national anthem while service members representing each service stood behind them. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David R. Marin)

Members of all the U.S. military services participate during the opening ceremony during the NHL’s Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. The U.S. Army Choir and U.S. Army Band performed the national anthem while service members representing each service stood behind them. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David R. Marin)

By PA3 Lisa Ferdinando

Under a bright sky on the first day of 2015, Coast Guardsmen proudly represented the service at a National Hockey League game by rendering honors to the nation as tens of thousands of sports fans cheered for the military.

The Coast Guard contingent led by Rear Adm. Stephen P. Metruck, district commander of the Coast Guard’s Fifth District, was part of pre-game ceremonies during the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington.

Representatives from all the services were part of a pre-game salute prior to the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks hitting the ice.

The Coast Guardsmen, along with Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers took to the field for the National Anthem. In addition, Coast Guardsmen who are part of a military hockey team wore special Coast Guard hockey jerseys and were on the rink to help unfurl a giant American flag.

Coast Guard participants (in light blue) hold a star flag as the U.S. Army Choir performs with recording artist Lee Greenwood during the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, Jan. 1, 2015. The U.S. military services were honored thought different events of the Winter Classic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd David R. Marin)

Coast Guard participants (in light blue) hold a star flag as the U.S. Army Choir performs with recording artist Lee Greenwood during the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, Jan. 1, 2015. The U.S. military services were honored thought different events of the Winter Classic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd David R. Marin)

“To be able to participate with the Coast Guard was quite moving, because it’s a very special event,” Metruck said. “The Winter Classic is a national event and to be able to go out there and participate with the other services was quite an honor.”

The game was unique. The NHL hosts an outdoor game each year on or around New Year’s Day at a stadium on a specially built rink.

Despite having to brave the cold, fans loved the event. The 2015 Winter Classic sold out: more than 42,000 people bundled up and came out for the game.

“It was a dream come true,” said Lt. Brian Doyle, a watchstander with the National Command Center. “I’ve always wanted to come to [the Winter Classic].”

For Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Goonan, a machinery technician on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the game punctuated another special event.

In the Coast Guard nearly two years, the Syracuse, New York, native also happened to be advancing the same day. Metruck conducted the ceremony at the stadium in the presence of Goonan’s fellow shipmates.

“We planned on doing something little, but it turned out the admiral got involved, and I was able to get advanced right here at the Winter Classic,” Goonan said. “For it to actually play out like it has, it’s been incredible.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Goonan advanced from Fireman after the NHL’s Winter Classic opening ceremony at Nationals Park in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Goonan is a machinery technician assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd David R. Marin)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Goonan advanced from Fireman after the NHL’s Winter Classic opening ceremony at Nationals Park in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Goonan is a machinery technician assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd David R. Marin)

Advancements are traditionally memorable occasions Metruck noted. Combining the advancement with the hockey game made it even more so, he said.

It was a privilege to represent the Coast Guard during the ceremonies of the Winter Classic, Metruck said. The event provided an opportunity to reflect on the servicemembers who stand the watch around the world, he said.

“Even though we are here participating in this [event], the men and women of the Coast Guard are out there doing the mission every day,” said Metruck.” For every person participating here, all around the world there are people standing the watch for the Coast Guard.”

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