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Panthers and Saints salute football officials who are also veterans

Panthers and Saints salute football officials who are also veterans

The seven members of the officiating crew that worked the Santa Maria-Pioneer Valley football game at Pioneer Valley Friday night were veterans, in terms of officiating service and service to their country.

Six of the seven had lengthy terms of service in the nation’s armed forces. The side judge, Bear McGill, is chairman of Paso Robles-based Honor Flight Central California.

That company’s stated mission “is to safely fly our veterans to Washington D.C. to experience the Memorials that were built in their honor.”

The company states that it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no government funding.

In fact, “We just flew a group of veterans out to D.C.,” McGill said shortly before kickoff Friday night.

Instead of wearing customary striped officials shirts, the officials Friday night donned solid blue shirts, with the insignia of the stars on the American flag on one sleeve and the insignia with the stripes on the flag in the other.  

The line judge for the Santa Maria-Pioneer Valley game was Greg Rodriguez. The referee was Bob Rollins. The head linesman was Ron Jacobs.

The field judge was Aaron Day. The back judge was Rick Sherwood. The umpire was David Andrade.

All seven officials came in with a lot of experience, working on various officiating crews. They had just never officiated together on the SAME crew.

“This is our first time working together,” Rollins, a former command sergeant in the Army who retired after serving 27 years and on various theaters in the field of battle, said moments before kickoff in front of a capacity crowd.

“Mike Ostini assigned us to work together for this one.” Ostini, a veteran official himself, is the assigner for the Los Padres Officials Association.

Andrade served in the Army and did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a civilian contractor. Rodriguez served in the Marine Corps and did a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1973 and ‘74.

Sherwood served in the Navy as a Second Class E5 Petty Officer during which time, he said, he took part in eight Trident deterrent patrols.

Jacobs served in the Air Force and helped with security for Delta Force for the late former President George W. Bush.

Day served in the Army and did a tour of duty in the Kosovo air war in Bosnia during the Clinton Administration.

The players from both teams wore American Flag insignia on their shoulder pads.

The crew was busy. There were approximately a dozen penalties in the game Santa Maria ultimately won 10-6. One penalty nullified a would-be Pioneer Valley touchdown pass.

In its first time together, the crew seemed in sync. There were no lengthy conferences to try to hash things out. Inquiring wide receivers promptly found out that yes, they were onside.

After the final whistle this group of officials hustled off the field, yet another job accomplished.


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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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