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Mooney Honors Soldier on Memorial Day, Earns Medal for work with Army Reserve

Posted May 28, 2013

Collin Mooney made a special visit to West Point on Memorial Day to honor a fallen hero and received recognition for work he did this spring with the Army Reserve.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans fullback Collin Mooney, who honored the ultimate sacrifice of a long-time friend with a gravesite visit on Memorial Day, returned to Baptist Sports Park Tuesday and received an Army Achievement Medal for work he recently did in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Army Lt. Col. Ryan McCabe presented Titans fullback Collin Mooney, a 1st Lt. in the Army Reserve, with an achievement medal for work that Mooney recently did. Click here for a slideshow of the presentation.

Over the holiday weekend, Mooney traveled to his wife’s family home in Pennsylvania. It is about two hours from West Point, N.Y., where he and a friend since childhood, 1st Lt. Dimitri del Castillo, roomed together when they attended the U.S. Military Academy.

Mooney and del Castillo became friends when they were in elementary school in Texas, and Mooney wanted to visit del Castillo for the first time since attending the funeral after del Castillo was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

“It was harder than I thought it would be — a lot harder, but I’m thankful to go back and be able to see him again,” Mooney said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for what he’s done and the service members that have given their lives. I think it’s something we should appreciate. Memorial Day, you know, it’s a day to have fun and celebrate those freedoms that those men and women died for, but we should also remember what they did and their sacrifice to their country.”

As part of that remembrance, American flags had been placed at each gravesite. Mooney left an additional flag for del Castillo, as well as a Titans patch that the second-year fullback had been wearing on his camouflage hat.

Mooney said he thought the experience impacted his wife’s family as well, but he most hopes the visit helps del Castillo’s family, to let them know that their sacrifice is still appreciated.

“Until you go to West Point, Arlington, or something like that, it doesn’t really hit home until you see it, so I think it had an impact on them and was good for me,” Mooney said. “I hope it was good for his family, as well, to have someone there on that day.”

Mooney joined the Titans last spring as an undrafted rookie after serving three years of active duty. He spent most of that time as a Field Artillery officer at Fort Sill, Okla., after he finished at West Point and set the single-season rushing record for the Army Black Knights in 2008. Mooney spent most of last season on the Titans’ practice squad, but his hard work was rewarded in the season finale when he carried the ball five times for 19 yards.

This spring, Mooney continued his training with the Titans as well as his commitment as an Army Reserve 1st Lt. by embarking on a two-week tour with the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion of Nashville. Mooney made multiple visits to schools in Tennessee and Kentucky, letting high school students know about the opportunities in the Army.

Mooney served as an ambassador of the Army and the Titans during the trips and said he received great welcomes at each school.

“It was great to see the excitement and support that the Army had and the Titans had,” Mooney said. “I was representing both, and to see the amount of support that both fine organizations receive from students is great.”

Lt. Col. Ryan McCabe on Tuesday morning delivered a speech that recognized Mooney’s work, pinned a medal on him and presented him a certificate, and Mooney’s teammates gave him a standing ovation. Lt. Col. McCabe also presented Titans coach Mike Munchak with a camouflage football in appreciation of the continued relationship between the military and the Titans.

Lt. Col. McCabe told players and coaches he remembered a visit he received from Mooney shortly after his arrival in Nashville and promised, “I’ll do everything I can to support you.”

“And he has,” Lt. Col. McCabe said.

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