Their 'American Spirit' earns Salt Lake Bees baseball team Air Force award

  • Published
  • By Christa D'Andrea
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
Before a sold-out crowd of more than 17,000 fans, the Salt Lake Bees Triple-A baseball team was presented the Air Force Recruiting Service's most prestigious award, the American Spirit Award, here Aug. 22. 

Col. Mark Ward, 372nd Recruiting Group commander, presented the award to Greg Miller, chief executive officer for Larry H. Miller Group of Companies that owns the Bees, during a ceremony following the team's 8-3 win over the Las Vegas 51s. 

"The American Spirit Award recognizes those individuals or organizations who show unwavering support for the mission of the United States Air Force and Air Force recruiting, " Colonel Ward said during the presentation. "Past winners include Bob Hope, the Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Cardinals. Tonight we add the Salt Lake Bees to that list of winners." 

The Bees were nominated for the continuous support they have provided to the 368th Recruiting Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The Bees have assisted the 368th RCS in their recruiting efforts by hosting numerous Military Appreciation and Air Force nights, granting recruiters unlimited access to all home games and providing advertising opportunities. 

Prior to the evening's game, fans got an up-close look at a full-size F-16 Fighting Falcon, painted like a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird, or experienced the extreme equilibrium ride as part of the Air Force's "Engage Tour." Recruiters also engaged the crowd throughout the game by handing out "Thundersticks" and launching t-shirts into the stands. 

"Our relationship with the Bees started three years ago and we've seen a measurable increase in recruiting in one of the 368th's most challenging recruiting markets," said Senior Master Sgt. William Bialcak, chief of the 368th RCS marketing and training flight. "The Bees have bent over backward to help us out and the successful relationship has been mutually beneficial." 

Colonel Ward added that the Bees support goes beyond a partnership and that the team truly believes in what the Air Force does. 

"They have been phenomenal in their support," the colonel said. 

Upon accepting the award, Mr. Miller said they were very grateful to receive the prestigious award and thanked all members of the Armed Forces for their service. 

In its 29th year, the American Spirit Award was first presented in 1980 to legendary comedian and actor Bob Hope.