The NFL saluted 15 Medal of Honor recipients during the coin toss for Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Minneapolis.
World War II veteran Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima, flipped the coin surrounded by the group of recipients. The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Eagles the first possession of the game.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
"The NFL is proud to honor our Nation's heroes at Super Bowl LII," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "These courageous individuals deserve to be recognized on America's biggest stage. We are grateful for their service to our country and we are pleased to continue the NFL's longstanding tradition of hosting special tributes to service members at the Super Bowl."
The Medal of Honor recipients participating in the coin toss:
Bennie Adkins: Army, Vietnam (award delayed 9/15/2014)
Don Ballard: Navy, Vietnam (awarded 5/14/1970)
Sammy Davis: Army, Vietnam (awarded 11/18/1967)
Roger Donlon: Army, Vietnam (awarded 12/5/1964)
Sal Giunta: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 11/16/2010)
Flo Groberg: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 11/12/2015)
Tom Kelley: Navy, Vietnam (awarded 5/17/1969)
Allan Kellogg: Marines, Vietnam (awarded 10/15/1973)
Gary Littrell: Army, Vietnam (awarded 10/15/1973)
Walter Marm: Army, Vietnam (awarded 12/19/1966)
Robert Patterson: Army, Vietnam (awarded 10/10/1969)
Leroy Petry: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 7/12/2011)
Clint Romesha: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 2/11/2013)
James Taylor: Army, Vietnam (awarded 11/19/1968)
Woody Williams: Marines, WWII (awarded 10/5/1945)
J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, who was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his fundraising efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, paid tribute to them as the Greatest of All Time.
Medal of Honor recipients. True GOATs. pic.twitter.com/siq59GmboU— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 4, 2018
Before the game, President Donald Trump invoked the National Anthem protest controversy in a tribute to U.S. Armed Forces before Sunday's Super Bowl LII.0comments
"As many Americans come together to watch the Super Bowl, Melania and I extend our greetings and appreciation for those who make occasions like this possible, particularly the brave men and women of our Armed Forces," the statement reads.
On Super Bowl Sunday and amid a season-long protest of the national anthem by NFL players, President Trump says we hold U.S. service members in "our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem." pic.twitter.com/flvi9KxLGv— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 4, 2018
"Though many of our Nation's service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening's American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers," Trump continued. "We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending out liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem."