Philip Rivers
Photo courtesy of the Chargers

America’s “greatest generation” — many of whom are now in their 90s — will be honored Sunday by the Los Angeles Chargers with a tribute to 11 World War II veterans who risked their lives in harrowing combat.

Players, coaches and team executives will wear items decorated in camouflage, and even the goal posts will be wrapped in camouflage ribbons.

It’s all for the Los Angeles Chargers annual Salute to Service military appreciation game that honors veterans and thanks active duty service members.

The veterans being honored on the field at StubHub Center include Joe Reilly, who parachuted into Normandy during the D-Day invasion as a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division; Larry Stephens, a tail gunner on 35 B- 17 combat missions in Europe; and Bruce Campbell, a staff sergeant with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division’s 86th Infantry Regiment, the ski troops that broke through the last German defense in Northern Italy.

The national anthem before the game against the Buffalo Bills will be performed by Army Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Smith, a conductor of the 300th Army Band, while 100 area members from each branch of the armed forces will carry a 6-foot by 8-foot U.S. flag. The anthem will culminate with a flyover by an Air Force C-130J Air Force cargo plane.

Veterans and active duty military members will be encouraged to show off their Charger support in uniform using the hashtag #RepTheBolts. The best photos will be featured on the team’s website,

Each NFL team designates a home game in November as its Salute to Service game. Players wear camouflage equipment including quarterback towels and captain’s patches and Salute to Service gloves. Helmets have decals honoring the branches of the military and the NFL’s Salute to Service ribbon.

Coaches and sideline personnel wear camouflage hats. Coaches and team executives wear camouflage metal lapel pins.

The game balls have the Salute to Service ribbon. A Salute to Service coin is used for the coin toss.

There will be camouflage goal post wraps and pylons with camouflage ribbon decals. The words “NFL Salute to Service” will be written in the back of the end zones.

Game-worn Salute to Service merchandise and footballs will be auctioned at Special camouflage merchandise will be available at

The NFL does not profit from the sale of Salute to Service products, a league official said. All charitable contributions are donated to the league’s nonprofit military partners, including the Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.

For the first time, the NFL will donate $5 for every use of the #SalutetoService hashtag on Twitter to its military nonprofit partners up to a total of $5 million.

The NFL previously donated $1,000 for every point scored in the 32 Salute to Service games to its military military appreciation nonprofit partners.

–Staff and wire reports

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