Salute to Heroes

U.S. Navy Reserve Capt. Dr. Stephen Steele doesn’t consider himself a hero. He was just doing his job.

“My job was to make sure we were ready for any explosion, any kind of attack on our base and ready to handle casualties,” said Steele.” “But, for the four months I was [in Afghanistan], fortunately nothing happened.”

It sure sounds like a hero.

One of the annual events that fans look forward to at the BNP Paribas Open is Salute to Heroes Night presented by the City of Indian Wells, a special ceremony recognizing veterans, military personnel, police and firemen, conducted following Friday’s first evening session match. During the day, a USO tribute with the Swing Dolls and a Bob Hope look-alike entertained fans.

More: BNP Paribas Open Schedule of Events

Dr. Steele, a veteran of almost 30 years, was responsible for the well-being of 2,000 people spanning 40 countries. Most of the time, he served as the only doctor on the base.

“I didn’t feel nervous about my life, said Steele. “I felt nervous about how I was performing.”

(PHOTO: under American flag – credit Billie Weiss)

As the American flag proudly hovers from baseline-to-baseline in Stadium 1 after the evening’s first match, dedicated men and women stand in uniformity. It is a firm reminder of the sacrifice and courage it takes to serve your respective country.

“Universally, we’re pretty humble,” said Steele. “To me, the really wounded warriors that we’re recognizing are most important.”

This night honors all those who serve.