Patriot of the Game Orchestrates Surprise Reunion with Father


Patriot of the Game Orchestrates Surprise Reunion with Father

After hearing about OU Extended Campus Patriot of the Game, a program that honors military heroes at OU home football, basketball, baseball and softball games, Carter reached out to OU and began working on a plan to surprise his father, Craig DeYoung, an Army veteran who served nine years under the 82nd Airborne and 1st Armored Division.

With the help of OU staff Carter’s plan worked, and DeYoung experienced a day he’ll never forget.

"It's kind of a unique situation," DeYoung said. "My son, Ryan, actually contacted OU regarding Patriot of the Game and was wanting to surprise me, which he throughly did."

“Needless to say, I instantly broke down in tears and pretty much ran towards Ryan. I realized he had pulled a fast one on me, and that’s when the joy took over.” - Craig DeYoung

After choosing Carter as Patriot of the Game for the Sept. 28 OU-Texas Tech football game, OU staff arranged for DeYoung to “win” a VIP tour of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and the OU football facilities that same weekend.

During the VIP tour, DeYoung realized he wasn’t there just to see the OU athletic facilities.

“During the course of this tour, a young lady opened the door to the OU football team’s locker room, and there was my son standing there in his battle dress uniform,” DeYoung said. “Needless to say, I instantly broke down in tears and pretty much ran towards Ryan. I realized he had pulled a fast one on me, and that’s when the joy took over.”

In addition to the tour, the family was honored during the Patriot of the Game ceremony at the end of the first quarter of the OU-Texas Tech football game.

Carter, a native of Pennsylvania, joined the Air Force in 2009. He’s completed six deployments – four in the Middle East and two in Africa. On his most recent deployment, he was awarded an Achievement Medal for replacing an engine at a forward operating base in hostile territory, as well as a Commendation Medal. He’s been stationed in New Jersey and England and is currently stationed at Deyes Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.

Carter and his father are not the first in the family with military ties.

“The true hero of our family is our grandma, Mary Wilma Kusch. She lost her son in Vietnam and served as president of the Gold Star Mothers of Oklahoma,” DeYoung said. “Her husband, our grandpa, Kenneth C. Kusch, served in World War II and Korea.”

OU Extended Campus has a long history of meeting the educational needs of military-affiliated students by providing onsite and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs for servicemembers, veterans and their dependents. Furthering its commitment to this population, OU Extended Campus began sponsoring the Patriot of the Game program at the beginning of the 2019 football season. To nominate someone for the honor, visit the Patriot of the Game website, patriot.pacs.ou.edu.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.