In recognition of the league-wide Salute To Service, the Cleveland Browns had a special entrance to the field at FirstEnergy Stadium prior to Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Former Marine Lance Corporal Ricky Turner and center
“It means a lot because they’re my favorite team,” Lance Corporal Turner said. “It’s my hometown, and they’re my hometown team. It’s exciting. It means a lot for the team to care enough to want to give back to people, especially us veterans. It means everything. It’s awesome.”
Jenner Tekancic, the Browns’ director of community relations called Sunday’s entrance “a special moment.”
“It’s something we’ve never done at FirstEnergy Stadium, and through the Salute to Service platform, we want to thank and extend our appreciation to all the men and women who serve our country,” Tekancic said.
In addition to leading the team onto the field Sunday, Lance Corporal Turner and his family spent Friday afternoon at practice with the Browns. Following the on-field work, he interacted with the players and coaches, who expressed their gratitude for his service to the country.
“Players and coaches were approaching him,” Tekancic said. “They knew who he was, wanted to come over and just say, ‘Thank You,’ while extending our sincerest gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice he made.
“I know he was sharing with some of the players that the best job he ever had was serving for the United States. He said he would go back in a heartbeat if he could because he felt that much pride for our country and those he served alongside. He’s a true hero, and we applaud everybody who serves in the United States Armed Forces.”
Lance Corporal Turner was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment headquartered in nearby Brook Park in 2005, and was deployed with Lima Company to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the deployment, Lima Company lost 47 Marines and one Sailor in a two-day struggle with insurgents.
It was during that deployment that Lance Corporal Turner suffered multiple shrapnel injuries and lost his right eye when a vehicle exploded during a rescue mission to recover the bodies of fellow Marines who were killed behind enemy lines.
He endured 10 surgeries and underwent months of physical therapy while in Bethesda, Md., and fought through the pain despite being told he would never walk again and that his legs would be lost due to the injuries.
Despite the doubts, Turner regained the use of his legs and is raising three children, sons Owen and Ashton, and step-daughter Juliana, with his wife, Briana. Lance Corporal Turner works for the post office and coaches his son’s football team in Akron.
As he prepared to run out of the home team tunnel, Lance Corporal Turner thought about those he once shared a battlefield with and everyone who has ever worn the uniform for the greatest team in the world, the United States Armed Forces.
“They’re having me do it, but it’s thanking everybody,” Lance Corporal Turner said. “Just for someone outside of the military, a professional football team to want to express their appreciation, their ongoing support, it’s a little overwhelming.
“It’s exciting for them to express their appreciation, and they have been continually. You look and see the Marine Corps flag up there (above the stadium). It’s always flying up there, and that’s why I love the Cleveland Browns.”