The Green Bay Packers and Network Health paid special tribute to U.S. Army veteran Joseph Wendel Hartmann during Sunday afternoon's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 'Operation Fan Mail.'
Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families and veterans at each Packers home game, is marking its 17th season this year.
Hartmann served in the Special Forces from 1968-71, rising to the rank of Captain. He attended St. Norbert College and was in the ROTC program, where he requested to be assigned to infantry. After he learned Korean and attended Airbourne School, he traveled to Okinawa to undergo Special Forces Training, which he completed in just three months. He was then assigned as the Deputy Commander of a detachment in the First Special Forces Group. His team completed two classified missions, one in Taiwan and one in Korea.
He was promoted to Captain and then appointed to command his team where they worked with Vietnamese Regional Forces. He also spent time at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the sixth Special Forces Group. He was selected to serve as interim commander and assisted with visiting VIPs from Washington and foreign dignitaries. His time in service came to an end in April of 1971, and he continued to serve his country as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department for 33 years.
Despite growing up in the Chicago area, Hartmann developed a love for the Packers while attending St. Norbert College. He sold beer at the games during his college years and his time spent near the team cemented his fandom.
Hartmann attended the game with his daughter Laura, son-in-law Josh, brother George and nephew Michael. He was nominated for recognition at this week's game by his niece, Michelle.
Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to honor those who are on active duty or are veterans of the military, along with their families. In addition to being recognized on the video boards prior to the game, selected families will receive four tickets to the game, courtesy of Network Health. The Packers and Network Health will host a family at each 2023 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 185 families have been saluted during the past 15 seasons.
To choose families, the Packers and Network Health 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 this season.
Essays can be sent to Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628 or online at packers.com/Lambeau-field/operation-fan-mail. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member of their family serving on active duty, or a member of their family who is a veteran. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.