Reservists step up to the plate at Kauffman Stadium

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Missy Sterling, 442d Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 442nd Fighter Wing
Members of the 442nd Fighter Wing make a special trip to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. on Sept. 19.

Royals Charities, created in 2001, is the charitable foundation of the Kansas City Royals that provides many groups support including military members and their families financial support. Local organizations were invited to the game so they could be presented a $350,000 check. During that presentation, U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Eckfeld, 442nd FW vice commander, and Lt. Col. Lee Saugstad, 303rd Fighter Squadron pilot, presented Marie Dispenza, Director of Royals Charities, with a plaque featuring an engraved bullet casing and a bullet from an A-10 Thunderbolt II GAU-8/A 30mm cannon in appreciation of Royals Charities’ support for the 442nd Fighter Wing Airmen programs.

After the presentation, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Marks, 303rd Fighter Squadron pilot, and his son Alex threw the opening pitch for the game. Marks previously threw in the first pitch April 8, 1991, at the Royals’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians. The Royals finished 4-2 against the Indians that day.

Marks joined the 303rd Fighter Squadron in April of 2001 as an Air Reserve Technician. He's flown in multiple operations including Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Marks is the current highest time A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with over 6,900 total hours including over 980 combat hours.