RIDGEFIELD, WA (KPTV) – Many members who serve in the United States in the military won’t be home for Thursday’s Fourth of July celebration, but some will be playing baseball for the stars and stripes in Ridgefield.

America’s pastime is leisure time as the U.S. Military All-Stars enter a third decade.

“President Bush, No. 41, started this program,” said U.S Military All-Stars manager Thomas Eaton.

Salute. Unite. And play ball.

“Just give back. Service before self… It’s not even days. It’s just pitches. Anytime I get a ground ball or I get to get in the box and take a pitch… we don’t know when it’s going to be our last one. The game doesn’t stick around forever,” said Jordan Falcon, who serves in the Air Force and is from Tacoma, Washington. 

The All-Stars are on a tour of duty in southwest Washington to kick off their red, white and blue summer season. 

“Most people do it for a reason to try and keep people back home safe and just to give back a little bit more than we already do,” said Jonathan Basham, who serves in the Army and is from Cleveland, Ohio. “Just to try and let people know that, hey, we’re human too. We’re not all like, robots.”

They’re having a ball while some of their squads serve in Afghanistan. 

“I’m a team leader in my unit and I have six soldiers over there right now that are under a brand-new leader, so I kind of feel bad that I’m not there to lead them,” Basham said.

All five branches of the armed forces are represented to make up the traveling nine full of ex-pros and college ball players. 

“Priceless, I forgot how much I missed it,” Falcon said. 

“Work hard, play hard with honor, courage and commitment,” said Daniel Vargas, who serves in the U.S. Navy and is from San Diego, California.

Baseball brings these brave men together but it all serves a purpose beyond the diamond.  

“It’s bigger than yourself. Take it for everything that you can,” Basham said. 

Vargas said, “Sharing time with people is better than gifts. When we are on this tour, we try to dedicate a lot of our time outside of the field with veterans and those that are partial to the military and that commitment there, that honor, that’s a big takeaway from this tour.”   

If you’d like to cheer them on, the All-Stars will be playing an exhibition on Independence Day at the home of the Ridgefield Raptors.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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