BELGRADE — The Veterans Memorial Softball Classic put on by VFW Post #12112 made its fifth annual appearance Friday at the Belgrade Softball Complex. The tournament aids in highlighting the sacrifices military members make on a daily basis while also honoring the families of fallen soldiers.
In order for the players to qualify for the tournament they must make the first-team all-state softball list, meaning the best of the best players were representing their regions.
“It’s actually really special to me,” said Madi Moore, a pitcher and outfielder from Great Falls CMR. “My two grandparents are veterans for the Air Froce and I love playing here and showing them I can play for that.”
Each region of the state represented a different branch of the military while honoring a veteran.
The Navy team honored Gunners Mate 3rd Class Jay Vee Fried of Havre.
The Army team honored Sergeant First Class Harold Haugland of Dawson County.
The Air Force team honored Captain Robert Holton of Butte.
The Marines team honored PFC Donald J. Ruhl of Joliet.
Finally, the Coast Guard team honored Engineman 2 Jerry Phillips.
“It’s an honor for these girls to wear the Army and Navy and Marines, it’s all great,” Team Army head coach Dean Thompson said. “All the little bios that are done here, it is really a neat thing that we get to represent [members of] our country and what they’ve done for us.”
The Bloem family of Belgrade was one of the families honored Friday for their son Nicholas Bloem’s service in the marines. He died in August of 2003 after an explosive hit his vehicle outside of Haditha.
In his honor, the VFW Post in Beglrade is now named after him.
“Moments like that when our world stops and represents Nick is awesome,” said his mother, Debbie. “He was actually killed 13 years ago today, to have the tournament begin today, you know, things just work out that way.”
There are no winners or losers in the tournament, just one message from Debbie Bloem: “One thing you see time after time is the fallen are not forgotten, we appreciate that.”