SA Rampage to host Military Appreciation Night

Former Vietnam War POW to attend Friday-night game

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Rampage will pay tribute to service members Friday during Military Appreciation Night at the AT&T Center.

"You're watching professional hockey. Yes, it's not NHL, but it's still professional hockey. High skill level, and you're watching it in a big-league arena," said retired Air Force Col.  Joe Milligan, a 14-year season ticket holder. 

The event is also an opportunity to learn more about war heroes such as Milligan, who spent 24 1/2 years in the Air Force. 

Milligan flew an F-4 fighter jet, and while serving in Vietnam, he was shot down and captured by North Vietnamese forces in 1967. 

He spent six years in the "Hanoi Hilton," a prison in North Vietnam for U.S. prisoners of war.

Milligan vividly remembers the day when he was released and put on a C-141 to head home with other POWs.

"Got on the airplane and sat down, not a whole lot being said. The airplane started up and taxied out and (was) rolling down the runway. The moment the wheels lifted off we just all broke out in a big cheer," Milligan said. 

Milligan has earned plenty of war medals, including a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.

Even with all Milligan has done for his country, he is still humble about the recognition he and others receive during Military Appreciation Night.

"It's a little strange, I guess. I mean, I appreciate it. I really do, but I think if you talk to just about anybody in the military, they would say, 'We're not special; we're just Americans,'" Milligan said.

One thing that Milligan is really proud of is the fact that his city and his country always remember the military -- even those captured and held for years in a prison camp.

"One of the things that, frankly, kept us going was the knowledge that our country doesn't forget about their military. We don't leave people behind," Milligan said.

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