Video by Sandi Moynihan

CHICAGO—Robert Canchola’s Navy service put him in the pre-game spotlight at a Chicago Blackhawks game. It only took 43 years.

“It’s unbelievable,” Canchola said.

Canchola, Vietnam veteran, was recently honored on-ice at the United Center during the National Anthem as part of the Service Salute Partnership between the USO of Illinois, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boeing.

“As soon as they started singing, I raised my hand to salute,” Canchola said. “It was just a beautiful moment.”

The USO of Illinois has worked with the military to select current and former service members to honor at each Blackhawks home game since 2009 as part of the Service Salute partnership. Each honoree is treated to an on-ice ovation and VIP gameday experience, courtesy of the Blackhawks and Boeing.

“It’s something that I thought I’d never be able to do,” Canchola said.

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect: Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.