The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Solutions paid special tribute this week to U.S. Army veteran Douglas Wirth and his family in Saturday’s preseason game against the New York Jets.
Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families and veterans at every Packers home game, marks its 15th season in 2021.
Wirth, a native of Ridgeland, Wisconsin, served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969. He was deployed to Vietnam in 1968 as part of the 9th Infantry Division, 43rd Scout Dog Platoon. He served as a dog handler and his job was to take a squad of eight to 10 soldiers to ambush sites safely, securing their perimeter with his dog, a German Shepherd named Alex. They kept the group from tripping traps and made sure the bases and bridges were secure.
Wirth was awarded the rank of sergeant and during his time in the military he received the Combat Infantry Badge in October 1968 and a Purple Heart in April 1969.
Wirth, who has been a Packers fan since the age of 12, comes from a military family; his father served in World War II and his nephew recently served in the US Air Force. He looks forward to being honored on the Freedom Honor Flight in October. He was nominated for Operation Fan Mail by his sister, Julie Sanders, and was accompanied to Saturday’s game by his fiancee Lana.
Operation Fan Mail, which began in 2007, is designed to honor families with a member on active duty or a member who is a veteran. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or brother. The Packers and WPS Health Solutions will host a family or group at every home game in 2021 and recognize them on the video board during pre-game activities. A total of 138 individuals, families or groups have been recognized by the program so far.
To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Solutions are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be recognized next season. Tests can be sent to Operation Fan Mail, PO Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628 or online at packers.com/lambeau-field/operation-fan-mail.
In addition to being recognized on the field before the game, selected families will receive four game tickets and a $ 150 Packers Pro Shop gift card courtesy of WPS Health Solutions.