Jackson Marine's letter inspires Wolverines

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Arlington, Texas — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh shared with his team on the eve of the season opener a later from Anthony Riddle, a Marine sergeant from Jackson, Mich.

Riddle wrote about his experiences of being a 20 year old sent to war in Iraq.

Harbaugh made the connection with his team, which is extremely young, and read the letter to them.

“He's not 18 anymore, but he talked about when he went to battle in Iraq, being 20 years old, leading a group of 52 Marines into battle, and none of them were over 20, and he was 20, and none of the other 52 Marines were over the age of 20,” Harbaugh said, after his team’s 33-17 season-opening victory over Florida. “I think his message was — it's irrelevant what the age is. His Marines and what they did and what they sacrificed and what they were able to do, age is irrelevant. So it's a group of guys in a unit or on a team that come together and do their job. So Anthony Riddle of Jackson, Michigan, thank you. Shared that with the team last night. It was really on point, a lot of really good messages in it.”

Quarterback Wilton Speight said they took a strong message from Riddle’s letter.

“Just to hear that letter say, ‘OK, there’s 18, 19-year-old guys going over there defending our freedom, why can’t we step out onto the field in Cowboys Stadium and play a simple game of football?” Speight said.

Defensive lineman Chase Winovich said the letter gave the players an extra burst.

“It’s like you watched a really inspiring YouTube video and you’re just fired up,” Winovich said. “You can feel the blood boiling. Just to see such a heartfelt patriotic message delivered. He wrote it not even knowing coach Harbaugh was going to read it, which makes it even more special.

“It was just inspiring. If nothing else, it gave you that one percent faster in the back of our minds, that there’s a lot more people giving a lot more sacrifices for this great country we have here.”

All the players said they were moved by Riddle’s message.

“First of all, it’s incredible that people are reaching out and giving us advice and stuff like that. That’s absolutely incredible,” kicker Quinn Nordin said. “It touched me specifically, just wanting to put on for people who were in the Marines and fellow people like that, so it’s pretty cool.”