At the VA Hospital to Honor Men and Women on Veterans Day

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com

70 years ago, Pearson Moss served in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II, in the North Sea and then building airstrips in Guadalcanal.

Seven decades later, Pearson’s son Randy, and Randy’s wife Barbara, were sitting in Pearson’s hospital room at Oklahoma City’s VA Hospital, cheering up the veteran as he recovers from a back injury. Little did they know that an unexpected surprise was just moments away from walking through the door.

On Veterans Day, Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary and Josh Huestis all stopped by the VA Hospital to take photos, sign autographs and most importantly dole out messages of support and gratitude. For a man like Randy Moss, whose father watches every single Thunder game, the visit was once-in-a-lifetime.

“It’s fantastic,” said Randy Moss. “I don’t know much about pro teams in other towns, but I know that these guys are absolutely fantastic at giving back to the community. The visit they did here today is very special to everyone.”

“A lot of people around the world don’t know how important it is and how many sacrifices they’ve made,” Westbrook said. “These people have families just like us, have kids, have grandchildren, have husbands and have wives. It’s important that you thank them and make them feel good about their service and what they did for our country.”

Pearson Moss was one of many men, women and hospital staffers who relished the opportunity to meet the Thunder quartet. This wasn’t Westbrook’s first time meeting with servicemen and women, ensuring that they felt appreciated. McGary and Kanter also have prior experience here in Oklahoma City at hospitals.

No one on the Thunder’s roster might have as unique of a perspective as Huestis, however, whose mom owns an assisted living facility back in his hometown in Montana. Since he was eight, Huestis has gained perspective and experience on what it means to care for the elderly and those in need, and brought that insight to his visit on Wednesday.

“Just reminding people that they’re not forgotten is huge,” Huestis said. “A lot of people who end up in places like that don’t get as many visitors as they’d like. They feel like they’ve kind of been forgotten in society. If you could just take time out of your day to remind them that you do care and that they do matter to you, it makes their day.”

The players and the organization prides itself on attending to all members of the community, and making them feel a part of the Thunder family. On Veterans Day especially, the Thunder wanted to take time to make men, women and families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice feel appreciated.  

“It’s unbelievable what they’ve given back to our country so the least we can do is give them a little bit of smiles and cheer them up a little bit,” McGary said.

Watch: Thunder pays surprise visit at the OKC VA Hospital on Veterans Day.