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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Marines Create Hockey Team To Help Injured Veterans

A group of Marines has created a hockey team to raise money for soldiers wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corp First Lieutenant Jeremy Pilachowski got back from Afghanistan six months ago. He said he was never wounded in battle, but had friends who suffered major injuries. 

After seeing what they had to go through, Pilachowski said he wanted to find a way to help.

Following a conversation over dinner with some friends in the Marine Corp, Pilachowski and some of his fellow Marines formed Patriots hockey with one goal in mind, to “get to give something back to the guys that aren’t coming back whole.”

Patriots hockey is comprised completely of Marines; some of them are active duty, others are veterans. They play in charity games and donate the money from the tickets sales and tee shirt orders to the Wounded Warrior Project. 

The Wounded Warrior Foundation helps provide programs and services to injured and disabled service men and women and their families.

The Department of Defense listed the total number of soldiers wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan at more than 46,000.

Pilachowski said he never questioned whether or not to join the team. “I get to play hockey and we get to do something for other Marines and sailors,” said Pilachowki. “It was an easy choice.”

The team continues to grow as more Marines come home or learn about it, but some players have been deployed since it began a few months ago.

Marine Sergeant Matt Harding, who played for the Patriots, said he is surprised by the amount of attention the team has received.

“It was just supposed to be a one-time thing, just get some games going and it’s huge now,” said Harding.

Harding said he can’t wait to “get on the ice,” but it’s about more than hockey to him and his teammates.

“Guys are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan pretty seriously hurt and they need the help,” said Harding. “We just wanted to do something.”

People in Orange County who have heard about the team have decided to chip in as well.

“The rink here at KHS donates some ice to us so we can get out and skate,” said Pilachowski.

Don Johnson, a former professional hockey player in Long Beach, also contributes his time to run drills with the team.

“I have nothing but respect for them really,” said Johnson. “They do enough for us over there so that we can sit here today.”

Patriots hockey sells tee shirts through their Facebook page and is working with other hockey teams and rinks to plan upcoming games. 


Terrific. How do I get a T shirt?

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