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“To be chosen to help tell the stories of the people who call Fort Campbell home was an absolute honor.”

SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves returns to Kentucky for Veterans Day Special airing tonight; Marty Smith interviews Ohio State legend, WWII hero Charles “Chuck” Csuri for Saturday's College GameDay

As part of ESPN’s annual Veterans Week initiative sponsored by USAA, SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves will host tonight’s SportsCenter Special: “Salute our Troops” (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

The Kentucky native shared his experience of returning to his home state for the important and meaningful program.

“It was one of the most rewarding assignments of my career. I grew up about 45 miles from there in White Plains, Kentucky,” Eaves said. “That post is not only one of the most important facilities in the entire United States military, it’s also been a pillar of the community by supporting countless schools and businesses throughout the region. To be chosen to help tell the stories of the people who call Fort Campbell home was an absolute honor.”

Entering Gate 4 brought back tons of memories of visiting the post with my father, a former Army sergeant who served during World War II, as well as the times my middle school and high school competed against Fort Campbell in basketball, football and golf. – Eaves on his Fort Campbell visit

Eaves, along with other ESPNers including Tim Tebow, Kirk Herbstreit, Marty Smith and Julie Foudy, spent time with members of the military based at Fort Campbell to hear their incredible stories and share them with viewers.

“It was surreal in so many ways. When visiting my mother in Kentucky, I often fly into Nashville’s airport and drive right past Fort Campbell on my way to her house. But this was the first time I had set foot on the post in nearly 30 years,” Eaves said. “Entering Gate 4 brought back tons of memories of visiting the post with my father, a former Army sergeant who served during World War II, as well as the times my middle school and high school competed against Fort Campbell in basketball, football and golf.”

Fort Campbell is home to the 101st Airborne Division, the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

“Visiting Fort Campbell served as yet another reminder of the overall depth and scope of our country’s military and the commitment and passion of those who serve in the various branches of our armed forces,” Eaves said. “Those soldiers –and their families– give so much of themselves for our freedom and security, and for that, I will be eternally grateful, as we all should be.”

Smith interviews 97-year-old veteran, Ohio State legend for College GameDay feature

Marty Smith (R) interviews former Ohio State All-American lineman and war hero Charles “Chuck” Csuri. (Marty Smith/ESPN)

This Saturday on College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and ahead of Veterans Day, reporter Marty Smith sits down with WWII veteran and Ohio State All-American lineman Charles “Chuck” Csuri.

“I first learned about Chuck during the College Football Playoff when I was reporting on Ohio State,” Smith said. “I passed a wall full of plaques of Buckeyes who served our country. One of those blew my mind. It was Mr. Csuri’s: a 1942 Ohio State captain and an all-American who led them to the 1942 championship. The was the first of Ohio State’s eight National Championships. He was then drafted into World World II.”

What made Smith pause in his tracks was the bravery Csuri displayed at the “Battle of the Bulge.” Csuri’s courageous actions were recognized with the Bronze Star for heroism.

“He’s 97 and now lives in an assisted-living home in Columbus. This week, I had the honor of flying to Columbus and sitting down with him and I’m a better man because of it,” said Smith.

“I’m so grateful to GameDay producer Drew Gallagher and feature producers Ben Webber and Zac Budman who believed in this piece,” Smith said. “It’s the biggest weekend in college football – No. 2 Alabama at No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Penn State at No. 17 Minnesota in undefeated matchups. And to air this piece leading into the signature day means a lot.”

– Molly Mita

– Molly Mita

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