Aug. 20, 2015, CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The minor league Fort Myers Miracle baseball team honored a local veteran during their game against the Palm Beach Cardinals, Aug. 15.
Randy Eckel, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was called down to the field where he was greeted with a standing ovation as a brief history of his military service was read over the loudspeakers. Eckel is a member of the Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation and an avid volunteer at its Southwest Florida Military Museum.
At each Miracle home game, they try to honor a local veteran. John Kuhn, Miracle manager and a friend to the IAVF, contacted Ralph Santillo, IAVF president, to find a deserving veteran to highlight at the game.
“I offered up Randy’s name because, in addition to his impressive resume as a combat veteran of Vietnam, he provides a lot of his time volunteering at our museum and helping our area veterans,” said Santillo. “Besides, he looks good in a uniform – and it still fits!”
Eckel said he felt impressed by the honor.
“It was quite a moving experience,” he said. “People were coming up to me and thanking me for my service, my hand was getting tired from all the handshakes.”
This wasn’t the reception he was accustomed to, Eckel added.
“When I came home from Vietnam, my reception was quite different, as I got off the plane, someone threw a beer bottle at my head,” he said. “But today, people were so friendly and appreciative.”
The Miracles won the game, 5-1.
For more information about the IAVF, or to become a member, please visit veterans-foundation.org.