Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona received a military promotion Thursday morning during a ceremony at Gillette Stadium, where New England plays its home games.
On the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that helped liberate France from the Nazis, Cardona, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, earned a promotion from lieutenant junior grade to lieutenant, ESPN reported.
Very cool moment at Gillette Stadium this morning: Patriots LS Joe Cardona, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. A special honor that takes place on the 75th anniversary of D Day.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 6, 2019
“Congratulations to Lieutenant Joe Cardona on his promotion,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose father was a coach for 33 years at the Naval Academy, said.
“And obviously a day to remember our World War II veterans from D-Day,” he added. “The 75th anniversary, that’s kind of a big one for us. We want to recognize all the things that they did.”
Following Thursday’s practice @Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Joe Cardona’s promotion to Lieutenant in the @USNavy and the @NHLBruins Game 5 matchup with St. Louis. pic.twitter.com/bp843hSVai
— Bob Socci (@BobSocci) June 6, 2019
“[We’re] happy to recognize Joe on this day,” Belichick added. “It just makes it a special day for all of us.”
Cardona, who has played for the Patriots since 2015, has balanced his duties in the NFL and in the military since graduating from the academy.
As a rookie, he worked 24-hour shifts on Tuesdays — the day of the week he had off from practice — at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island.
And prior to his sophomore season in the NFL, Cardona worked 55-hour weeks aboard a warship while his teammates were participating in organized team activities, the Providence Journal reported in October 2016.
His teammates, including quarterback Tom Brady, recognize Cardona’s high level of dedication.
“It’s pretty emotional when you see someone take the oath like that and raise his hand,” Brady said, according to ESPN. “It’s a big commitment Joe’s made, and I think Joe has done it very proudly and does a great job educating a lot of us on what it means to him. I think we all appreciate that.”
“We see the work he does here for us, but also the work he does for our country,” he added. “I’ve talked to Joe a lot over the years about what his roles and responsibility are and I think everyone is proud of his accomplishments.”
Cardon — who’s about to enter his fifth season with the Patriots — and Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach are the only Naval Academy graduates with multiple Super Bowl titles, according to NBC Sports.
Cardona was a part of the Patriots’ 34-28 Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, as well as their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams this past February.
And even as he continues serving his country, Cardona has yet to miss a regular season NFL game.
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