If you’re a college basketball fan, you may have tuned into the “Carrier Classic” Veterans Day game, which was played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson. When the North Carolina Tarheels opened their season against the Michigan State Spartans on the unconventional court, a Mount Shasta resident was blowing the whistle.
If you’re a college basketball fan, you may have tuned into the “Carrier Classic” Veterans Day game, which was played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson.
When the North Carolina Tarheels opened their season against the Michigan State Spartans on the unconventional court, a Mount Shasta resident was blowing the whistle.
Retired serviceman Mike Reed, who served 23 years as a US Army recruiter for the National Guard, was one of three officials selected to preside over the game. President Obama and the First Lady were in the audience.
“It’s not every day you get to shake the President’s hand,” said Reed on Monday afternoon. But the real honor was officiating a game dedicated to US service men and women, Reed said.
“Showing that support and honor for the troops... that’s the part that’s pretty hard to put into words,” Reed said. “As a person who never participated in the Olympics, it was hard to imagine playing for your country. That night, on the court, it felt like I was refereeing for the country... It was intense.”
“We want to make sure you understand how much we appreciate what you do, not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year,” President Obama said before the game began, as Reed stood just a few yards behind him.
“Every time I interact with the men and women in uniform, I could not be prouder to be an American... That gratitude that we have for our men and women of the armed forces does not stop when they take off the uniform,” Obama said. “When they come home, part of a long line of those who defended our freedom, we have a sacred trust to make sure they know how much we appreciate how much they do. And that’s not just on Veterans Day, that is every day, of every year.”
At the end of the game, which started in the daylight and ended in the darkness of San Diego Bay, North Carolina beat Michigan State 67-55. The players wore special camouflage jerseys with “USA” printed on the back where names would usually be.
Other high points of the experience were a military aircraft fly-over and the retiring of the colors as the crowd stood at attention partway through the first half of the game.
Also in the audience were Magic Johnson and James Worthy.
“It was an incredible experience,” Reed said.
To put things in perspective, the 1,092-foot USS?Carl Vinson is regularly occupied by 4,000 to 5,000 military men and women, Reed said.
It’s a floating city – a big city, especially when compared with Mount Shasta’s population of 3,394, Reed added.
Temporary stands sat 7,000 fans for the Nov. 11 event, with more than half reserved for the military, including many members of the Wounded Warrior Project, according to ESPN.
Half of the 8.111 people in attendance were in uniform from a branch of the military.
Every member of the Vinson crew who wanted to attend was granted a ticket.
Equipped with two nuclear reactors and with a flight deck area of 4.5 acres, in May, the USS Carl Vinson sailed Osama bin Laden's body to a burial at sea.
Reed started officiating while he was still in high school.
He graduated from Mount Shasta High School in 1982, the same year he started working high school JV games.
He stayed at the high school level until 1990, then moved up to junior college and Division II.
In 1995, Reed was hired to ref the NCAA Pac 10. He, as well as fellow referees James Breeding and Tony Greene were selected by John Adams, the NCAA’s national officiating coordinator, to referee the Carrier Classic because of their active military experience, he said.
To see clips of the game and the president’s speech (with Reed standing in the background), click here and then click on the "Obama From Carrier Classic" link on the playlist.