October 20, 2012 was a special day for Clemson walk-on Daniel Rodriguez. The 24-year-old decorated Army vet got to carry the U.S. flag as he led the Tigers down The Hill. Later, USAF Captains Michal Polidor and Justin Kulish were recognized for coming to the aid of Rodriguez's unit during Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan.
"It's for my buddies that were killed in action. And I want it to be something that when I see them again, they say, hey, you gave it your all and we're proud of you."
- Dan Rodriguez in an interview with CBS Evening News.
My sister Jeannine Edwards worked Saturday's game as a sideline reporter for ESPN and did a story about Dan during the broadcast. She had this to say about the game afterwards in an email:
He was so pumped running out with that flag, he was jumping up in the air, running around in circles, waving the flag, even BEFORE he came down the hill. The crowd was going nuts!! At Clemson they do this before every game... they say a prayer, the pledge of allegiance, then sing the national anthem. 2 F-18s flew over and one of them tipped their wing, and the crowd erupted! (all 83,000) They cheered a deafening roar for like 5 minutes... never heard anything like it. Then the U-S-A chants started, then that's when Dan appeared at the top of the hill with the flag. It gave you goosebumps.
At halftime they brought out a group of veterans onto the field including the 2 AF guys who flew the aerial missions during the Kamdesh battle, they honored them, and then Dan ran across the field as fast as he could and grabbed them both and hugged them. It was amazing.
They played the military theme songs for all 4 branches, did a 21-gun salute, had a wreath display and rifle with helmet, and when they played taps there was not a dry eye in the house. Senator Lindsay Graham was wiping away tears. It was very moving.
We're so proud of you, Dan!