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Veterans, active service members honored at Military Appreciation Night

Bartram Trail, Creekside come together at Friday's football game

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The teams may be rivals, but when it comes to showing support for the armed forces, the red and blue schools band together.

American flags were seen throughout Creekside High School's stadium for Military Appreciation Night Friday.

And before the football game between the Creekside Knights and the Bartram Trail High School Bears kicked off, a huge tailgate was set up for students and families, where they enjoyed food and fun, and learned more about the different branches of the service.
 
On the field and off, fans recognized veterans and those still serving.
 
“This is great to have Bartram Trail and Creekside have us out here to show their support and the community rallying behind (them),” Army 1st Class Sgt. Michael Kube said. “It’s great seeing the band play the national anthem.”
 
One special veteran was honored in front of the crowds before kickoff.
 
James Snellen, who served in World War II, was given a plaque for his dedication to the community and to our country.
 
“I forced my parents to sign my papers to join the Navy when I was 17,” Snellen said.

He sailed away to the South Pacific in 1944 and served for 26 months.
 
Snellen then went back home to finish high school and start college, but he couldn’t stay away from the military for too long.
 
“I just hadn’t grown up yet,” Snellen said. “I just turned 20 years old, and so I re-enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947.”
 
Snellen said he is one of the few WWII veterans still around today, and he offers up his story any chance he gets.
 
“Students would come running forward, they would hug me (and) take pictures,” Snellen said. “It shocked me at the interest those young people have.”

Snellen just celebrated his 90th birthday this week.