NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a special day for U.S. Army Colonel Alan J. Boyer.
It was also a memorable day for Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, who was invited to attend the Bastogne Brigade Change of Command Ceremony at the 101st Airborne Division on Thursday.
Surrounded by approximately 1,000 soldiers and other VIPs in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Strunk was on hand as Boyer was honored, and Colonel Derek K. Thomson was introduced as incoming Commander. Strunk was also presented with a special gift – a Cavalry hat.
"It is inspiring," Strunk said. "And it was really, really nice of them to invite me.
"When you see a ceremony like that, you are so inspired by the men and women. They give so much for all of us, and it was powerful. This team loves having that relationship. The 101st and the Titans learn from each other. It is about team first, and winning and there's so much good that each one gives to the other."
Strunk's invitation to the ceremony further illustrates the close relationship the Titans have developed with the 101st Airborne.
During the offseason, the Titans traveled to Fort Campbell and spent a day on the base. Players went through an obstacle course, and Titans coach Mike Mularkey and General Manager Jon Robinson spent time with U.S. Army leaders.
Earlier, the Titans welcomed members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne" 101st Airborne Division to Saint Thomas Sports Park, where strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson put company commanders through a strenuous workout.
Strunk did a tandem jump with the Army Golden Knights back in April. Members of the 101st Airborne attended the team's scrimmage at Nissan Stadium earlier this month, and during training camp Major General Andrew Poppas spoke to players at a team meeting.
A sign with the words "I Am Bastogne! Stay in the Club." hangs in the team meeting room.
"We have such a close relationship,'' Strunk said, "and it means so much to us."
Strunk left Fort Campbell with a heck of a souvenir – a Cavalry hat know as a Stetson, which is traditionally worn by U.S. Army Cavalry units as a symbol of their heritage going back to mounted cavalry (horseback) battle.
The numbers 1-32 on the hat refer to 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne", 101st Airborne Division.
It was presented to Strunk by CPT Andrew Carlin, who wore the hat in Afghanistan. Carlin met Strunk at the Titans scrimmage on August 5 at Nissan Stadium. Strunk told Carlin she really liked the hat, and he explained the tradition to her that night. The hat is decorated with badges earned, crests, and other Army experiences.
"He presented it to Ms. Adams as a token of appreciation for everything the team has done for 1-32 and the 101st,'' according to MAJ Martin Meiners, Public Affairs Officer for the 101st Airborne Division.
A "Titans" pin was put on the hat on Thursday before it was presented to Strunk, who was accompanied by her husband, Bill, in Fort Campbell.
"Someone came up to me to tell me she had never seen them give a hat to anyone outside the military," Strunk said. "So it is really special. I am going to display it in my office."
In addition to the approximately 1,000 soldiers standing in formation and 200 other soldiers, citizens and veterans were also in the audience. Major General Poppas, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, and Mr. Vinnie Speranza, 92-year old WWII veteran who fought in Bastogne Belgium (which gives the brigade its namesake), was also on hand.
"It's something I'll never forget," Strunk said. "It was so meaningful to be a part of it."