The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ross during Sunday’s Packers-Lions game for ‘Operation Fan Mail.’

Ross, who is originally from Peoria, Ill., knew at a young age that he wanted to join the military and be a Green Beret. After enlisting in the National Guard, Ross transferred to the U.S. Army a few years later, and following the events of 9/11, he began working toward his goal of joining the Special Forces.

Ross has served in the U.S. Army for 19 years, the past 10 of which have been spent in the Special Forces. He has been deployed several times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait while serving as a Special Forces Communications Non-Commissioned Officer, Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant, and Special Forces Mountaineering Instructor.

Ross has received several awards, including the Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and a Senior Parachutist’s Badge. 

Ross currently serves at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where he trains, prepares and manages a 12-man Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha or “A-Team.” Until recently, he was deployed to Afghanistan, but was able to return to Wisconsin this fall. He attended the game with his wife, Mary, his mother, Sue, and brother, Mike.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 73 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.