by Jackie LaPenta || AHL On The Beat Archive
With the largest military medical training facility in the world located just three miles from the AT&T Center at Fort Sam Houston, it is easy to see how San Antonio Rampage games have become home to many of our great men and women in uniform.
San Antonio prides itself on being a military town, and for the past seven seasons the Rampage have honored both active and non-active members from all branches of the military at Military Appreciation Night.
This year the annual event will be held on Feb. 26 and the night promises to be heartwarming as fans and players alike gear up for the festivities that will commemorate the dedicated individuals that fight for our nation’s freedom every day.
“This is a great night that the Rampage put on,” said San Antonio right wing Ryan Weston. “With such a large contingent of military members in San Antonio, it means a lot to see our organization and fans show support to them.”
Weston speaks from the heart; his older brother, Jerry Healy, is currently serving in the Marines as a JAG officer.
In fact, two members of the Rampage family have brothers that are part of the military. Left wing Ryan Hollweg’s younger brother attended West Point and is currently working under the Army’s wing.
“I grew up idolizing my brother,” Weston said. “He is the most competitive guy I know and is one of the biggest influences in my life by having really guided the way for me.”
Healy attended the University of New Hampshire where he fed his competitive desire as a member of the basketball team. After graduating, he worked his way to a lofty financial position without giving a thought to an occupation in the service.
“Despite being virtually set for life in his job, something was lacking in his career,” said Weston. “He missed the competitive atmosphere and camaraderie of a team that basketball brought and he knew that the military would fulfill that need, so he decided to basically start from scratch and join the Marines.”
Healy went through extensive sessions of officer training in the Marines Judge Advocate Division and earned his law degree from Suffolk University in Boston. He recently made the switch from prosecution to defense lawyer as he completes his final year of Marine Corps training in Buford, S.C.
On the other hand, Bryce Hollweg sought a career in the service from the beginning.
“The main reason he decided to attend West Point was for the level of academics the school offered and the security he would have graduating with a degree from there,” Ryan explained. “It looked great on his resume to be affiliated with the program and I think that was the most important thing for him.”
Bryce followed in his big brother’s footsteps having played hockey during his four years enrolled at the school and even served as the team captain. He played in 132 career Army games tallying 27 goals and 57 assists for 84 points.
“He likes to play physical; he doesn’t shy away from that at all,” Ryan said. “He’s got really good skills and good hands, plus he can score so he plays a pretty complete game.”
Bryce was able to transfer his hockey abilities to Europe in Brussels where he was stationed for his first assignment after graduation.
He played in a professional league in Belgium when he was positioned there. He was there for almost two years working a job in satellite communications with 50 cadets under him. The hockey league fit his schedule because they only played on weekends and he participated as an assistant/player coach.
Bryce is currently in his third year of service for the Army where he has been promoted to first lieutenant and stationed just outside of Frankfurt, Germany.
“Even though he is my younger brother and I know he spent a lot of his life looking up to me, I admire him now and am so proud of him,” Ryan said.
These two men have made a strong impact on the lives of not only their brothers and families but to the larger community. Holding a Military Appreciation Night does not begin to cover the gratitude owed to these dedicated citizens; however, it is the Rampage’s way of showing its appreciation to the armed forces.
“Every time I hear the national anthem before a game, I think of how lucky we are to have the freedoms we do,” Weston said. “I would dedicate every night to the military if we could.”