Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knights' Inspiration

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knights' Inspiration

Article excerpt

The general was moved.

When St. Joseph football coach Augie Hoffmann reached out to retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ralph Jodice to accompany the Green Knights to California this weekend for the Honor Bowl, the New Milford native was flattered.

"I was almost crying," Jodice said from his home in south central Pennsylvania. "This was a really emotional moment. The cause for this game [against Serra (Calif.)] is to honor military veterans and generate proceeds for them. And it's very humbling to go with this team that has had such a fantastic history.

"It wasn't like that when I was there."

Jodice punctuated his last remark with a hearty laugh.

He is a 1973 St. Joseph graduate. He was a football player there for four years - two on varsity - but some of his most vivid memories are the lickings delivered by (now closed) Essex Catholic and Seton Hall Prep.

"They had guys back then that were 250 pounds," Jodice said. "I was playing on both the lines, and I was listed as 200 or 210 in the program, but I was lucky if I was 195."

The 61-year old is a true Bergen County product. He attended St. Joseph elementary school in Oradell, the hometown of his wife, Judy. They met at St. Joseph's annual church fair.

His father was chief of police in New Milford and served on the force for 39 years before retiring in 1988.

Jodice's service in the Air Force has taken him around the world - he formally retired on July 1, 2013 - but he has stayed close with his Green Knights roots, speaking at commencement in 2014 and talking to various history classes.

"I was just so impressed when I saw him at commencement," Hoffmann said. "I respect what he has accomplished in life, and I thought it would be a great way for us to say thank you for all he's done and him being an alumnus and military man. It seemed like a great fit."

The Honor Bowl is a three-day football festival pitting teams from across America in Mission Viejo, Calif. The event honors the nation's military and raises awareness about military members' needs when they leave the service. …

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