American flag

ENID, Okla. — Chisholm High School will host a "Freedom Football Game" and veterans' appreciation night when the Longhorns take on the Weatherford Eagles Friday evening.

Jamie Muniz, a Chisholm High School mom and Vance Air Force Base spouse, said Chisholm moms Jennifer Fields and Cicily Staerkel organized the event to benefit Warriors for Freedom, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit that promotes community programs for disabled veterans.

The event will begin with a 5:30 p.m. pregame tailgate adjacent to the Longhorns football field. The tailgate is open to everyone, at a cost of $5 per plate. Veterans and active duty military eat free with military ID.

Anyone with a military ID also gets into the game for free. Seating will be available on the track for any disabled veterans, and Chisholm students will be available to escort other veterans into the stands, if desired.

An opening ceremony will take place on the field at 6:30, prior to the game. Attendees also will have an opportunity to purchase an American flag for $10, to be placed behind the home end zone in a "Field of Honor" flag display.

Retired Air Force Col. Chuck DeBellevue, the top American ace in Vietnam, is scheduled to serve as the honorary team captain for the coin toss before the game.

Between May and September 1972 DeBellevue shot down six enemy MiGs while flying with two different pilots in four separate engagements in the F-4 Phantom. An ace is defined as an aviator who has shot down at least five enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat.

After his combat tour, DeBellevue transitioned to serve as a pilot in the F-4, and went on to accumulate more than 3,000 flight hours, including 550 combat hours. His military decorations include the Air Force Cross, three Silver Stars, three Legions of Merit, six Distinguished Flying Crosses and 18 Air Medals.

DeBellevue retired in February 1998 with 30 years of service, and was the last American ace on active duty, according to his provided bio.

Muniz said Friday night's veterans' appreciation night is "just a nice way to appreciate our military in the area, and give them a night out."

For information on Friday's Freedom Football Game, go to https://www.warriorsforfreedom.org/chisholm.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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