The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Navy Officer Garrett Thomas during Sunday's Packers-Panthers game for 'Operation Fan Mail.'
Thomas, originally from Madison, Wis., completed his ROTC training through the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned his commission as an active duty naval officer in May 2011.
He has completed two overseas deployments, one of which was a seven-month deployment off the coast of Somalia, conducting counter-piracy operations in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. Most recently, in 2014, he completed a 7 1/2-month deployment in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations that consisted of assisting in the search for missing Malaysian Flight MH370 and conducting military exercises with Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Thomas now serves as the anti-submarine warfare officer, overseeing 15 sailors to monitor sonar and weapons systems, as well as the ship's tactical maneuvering. He also serves as command legal officer and advises over 300 sailors on both civilian and military legal concerns.
Stationed in San Diego, Thomas returned from his most recent deployment just in time for the beginning of football season. An avid Packers fan, Thomas attended Sunday's game with his wife Michelle, with whom he recently celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary, and their friends Kyle and Autumn DeMus.
Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 68 families have been recognized through the program thus far.
To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.
Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.
In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.