UI alum Adam Vranek returns as Hawkeye Football Military Hero

University of Iowa alum Adam Vranek was recognized as the Military Hero of the Game at the Oct. 16 Iowa-Purdue football game. He was chosen after being nominated by his stepbrother.

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Iowa Military Hero of the Game Adam Vranek is honored on the field during a football game between No. 2 Iowa and Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

Kate Perez, News Reporter


For Adam Vranek, coming back to Kinnick Stadium to be the Iowa-Purdue game’s Military Hero of the Game was more than just honoring his service — it was a chance for him to show his former classmates and mentors everything he’s accomplished.

Vranek, a 2008 University of Iowa graduate, said he had great mentors at the university and was able to reunite with them at Kinnick Stadium while being recognized for his military service during the Iowa vs. Purdue game.

“To be able to come back and show what I’ve done was awesome,” he said. “I have a lot of good mentors at Iowa and the ROTC detachment [unit]. I have a lot of military friends who are still there.”

Vranek said he was told two months in advance that he had been chosen.

“When I got selected, they gave me an option of the games available that had not been assigned to military heroes,” he said. “With my work schedule and my drill schedule for the guard, the Purdue game was really about the only one that fit my schedule.”

Nominated by his stepbrother, Vranek only had to send his stepbrother a list of what he has done in his career, he said.

He was also able to reconnect with his former commanders and instructors at the Hawkeye ROTC program.

“The Army ROTC commander when I went through was Lieutenant Colonel Lewis. He was actually my seventh-grade science teacher, as well,” he said. “My freshman mentor is the ROTC detachment commander now for the Air Force detachment, our enlisted instructor Gary Boseneiler.”

This was not his first time being on Duke Slater Field, Vranek said. The ROTC program was involved in the football games when he went to the UI.

“ESPN would have the ROTC crews help out with cameras and the sound machines,” he said. “Since they closed in the North endzone, the whole dynamic of the field is completely different. It is significantly more intense down there and incredibly exciting.”

Vranek flew in from Ohio, where he currently works with the Ohio Air National Guard, to come back to Iowa City for the game, he said.

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Kari Dressen, manager of partnership services at Hawkeye Sports Properties, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that she receives hundreds of nominations a year.

“Each season, I receive over 100 plus nominations for football,” she wrote. “And additional for the basketball season as well.”

Vice President and General Manager of Hawkeye Sports Properties Gabe Aguirre said people can nominate someone through a form on Hawkeye Sports website. The nominee must have a military background and a tie to Iowa to be selected, he said.

“Once all of the nominations have been gathered, we give those into the ROTC [program] at the University of Iowa to verify all the backgrounds and confirm that everything is accurate, and then they make recommendations to us,” he said.

Dressen said the ROTC program plays a big part in the selection process, as they are the group that can verify each nominee’s service and eligibility.

“Once their service has been verified, it is kind of random who gets picked,” she wrote.

Aguirre said Hawkeye Sports Properties start taking nominations around June and start notifying the selected Military Heroes by the end of July.

Hawkeye Sports Properties are currently in the process of choosing their heroes for the upcoming basketball season, he said.

“Most of the heroes from this year were carryovers from last year because we didn’t have fans and we didn’t do military heroes,” Aguirre said. “Everyone that applied for football and were not selected will be considered for basketball.”

For Aguirre, the Military Hero of the Game is a way for the UI community to show their gratitude toward veterans, he said.

“Our military and our veterans are so important to our freedoms, and it’s important that we show our appreciation,” he said. “When you have almost 70,000 fans, there is a great opportunity for us to show our appreciation all at once in a great setting.”

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