93-yr-old WWII veteran throws 1st pitch in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A 93-year-old World War II veteran has thrown out the ceremonial first pitch of a college game in central Illinois as part of a program to honor veterans and raise awareness about veteran suicides.

Howard Ross earned a Purple Heart for a shrapnel injury when he was a tech sergeant in the Philippines.

Champaign’s New-Gazette reports Ross threw the pitch before the second game of Saturday’s double-header with Danville Area Community College at Champaign’s Parkland College.

Ross said the throw was “no trouble at all” and an announcer joked over the loudspeaker that “there might be a spot in the bullpen” for Ross.

Vietnam and Korean War veterans also participated. The News-Gazette reports the awareness program is called “Mission 22” — after the estimated 22 veteran suicides daily on average.