Plano Senior High football team honors fallen service members

The Plano Senior High School football team honored fallen service members during their game Friday night by wearing the names of the fallen on their jerseys.

The school calls the night “Maroon out for the military,” and it's touched the hearts of loved ones of the fallen.

The tradition began in 2012 when a Plano alumnus lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan. It inspired the school to dedicate one football game each year to our military.

There were angels on the field and heroes there in spirit. At least that's what Becky Welch saw under the Friday night lights.

"I like to close my eyes and have pictures of all these silent, unseen angels on the field,” she explained.

In Welch’s eyes, her high school sweetheart and husband, Army Lt. Robert Welch, was running with the running back. He took incoming fire in Afghanistan in 2011 and did not come home to Wylie.

The lieutenant’s name and the names of 70 other fallen service members from Collin County were printed on the back of jerseys worn by the Plano Senior High football team.

"I just feel an extreme pride,” Welch said. “I feel an extreme pride for our country and extreme pride for my husband."

Quarterback Aaron Ragas honored Army Sgt. Casey Joyce, a Plano alumnus, killed in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

"He was saving his brothers in combat,” the quarterback explained. “And he was going back for them, not worrying about his own, but worrying about others."

While studying stats for their game against Irving McArthur this week, players also read up on each of the service members' military history taped in their lockers, explaining where they served and how they died.

Assistant Principal Bryan Spiritus served in Marine Corp.

"This isn't WWII where millions and millions of people were serving at one time,” Spiritus explained. “It's roughly one percent of the population. So we need to make them aware of what's going on."

The service members' family members were escorted onto the field by players Friday night.

"Their family members risked their lives for me, for someone they didn't even know,” Aaron said.

"No matter what they do in life, they're going to be citizens,” the principal explained. “They're going to be voting, they're going to be part of our society and they need to know these things are going on."

Win or lose, it’s a game the players will never forget.

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