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A Memorial Day Spotlight: Panini America Collector SSG James D. Sevier III

May 28, 2012

My first correspondence with U.S. Army Staff Sergeant James D. Sevier III came in late January via email. He contacted me to inquire about a redemption he’d been waiting on for quite some time. Over the course of the next several emails, I discovered that in addition to being a passionate Panini America collector, James is also on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

In addition to feeling incredibly honored and more than a little unworthy, I vowed to take care of his outstanding redemption issue and to also send him a little care package from all of us here at Panini America in hopes of making his stay overseas just a little more enjoyable.

It took more than a month for the package to arrive, but judging by James’ return email, the wait was well worth it.

On this Memorial Day holiday, an entire country pays tribute to the brave, heroic men and women who have lost their lives defending this country. From all of us here at Panini America to all those still serving in the United States Armed Forces, my opening line to James in my first email to him bears repeating: “Thank you for your unselfish service to this country that makes everything we do here possible. We wish you a safe tour over there. Get back here in one piece and thanks again.”

Now, here’s a little more about Staff Sergeant James D. Sevier III, in his own words:

“I reside in Monroe, La. I’ve been married for 8 years now. My wife, Susan, bless her heart, puts up with my collecting addiction. She calls it our ‘retirement fund.’ Little does she know, if I can avoid it at all, my collection will never leave my hands. We have one child, my daughter Madyson, who is 4. I have even gotten her a little interested in cards! She loves picking up a pack or two of Dora the Explorer cards at Walmart!

“I’ve been a member of the Louisiana National Guard for 12 years now. Like most people, I enlisted in order to pay for college. I currently hold the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG). I serve with an engineering unit that consists of both vertical construction (carpentry), and horizontal construction (dirt work). Being in the guard has brought me to Afghanistan twice now. I was here from 2004-2005 and now from 2011-2012. Consequently, my first deployment is where I found my passion for collecting again. Until then, I hadn’t really collected since I was a kid in the early 1990s.

“We were lucky enough to score an internet satellite  shortly after we got here, so I would spend most evenings trolling the Internet trying to find something that interested me. One night on eBay I ran across a Ryne Sandberg autograph card. That sparked my interest as to where the hobby was at that time, and curiosity as to how much it had changed since I last collected. Man, what I found was a whole new world of card collecting. Seeing jerseys, bats and autographs actually on and in the card was amazing to me. Since then, I have been hooked all over again.

“I am now stationed at Fob Arian, Afghanistan. This is a tiny post in the Ghazni province, which is located in the mid-eastern section of the country. When we first arrived in late November, it was under Polish military control. The food was terrible and there was no running water, but we made do. You may be able to find a news article or two about this place. See, when we first arrived, the Polish spelled this place Aryan. Anyone that knows a bit of World War II history knows the history of Hitler and his ‘Aryan Nation.’ I found it odd that the Polish were OK with being in control of a place that had the same spelling. Anyhow, someone in the press blew it way out of proportion and stated that the U.S. was actually in control of a base named ‘Aryan.’ Long story short, it’s now spelled ‘Arian.’

“Hopefully I will get back home around the end of the summer. Man, it can’t come fast enough! Again, once I’m home, I am making it a point to come to Panini America HQ to show my appreciation. I have always wanted to see Panini HQ anyhow, and now I have a good reason. Thanks again. That package made my time over here just that much better.”

Once again, to James and everyone serving in the military: A sincere, heartfelt ‘Thank You!’ from all of us here at Panini America.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2012 12:44 pm

    Excellent article Tracy, thanks for posting it and a special thanks to the SSG for his service to our country. Thanks to all vets today and always!

  2. LTJG Ryan Kalmoe, USN (ret) permalink
    May 28, 2012 12:49 pm

    Awesome. Go get ‘em SSG.

  3. May 28, 2012 12:49 pm

    Again, thank you cannot be said enough! Keep up the great work, Tracy. See you all real soon!

    • Nick Gauder permalink
      May 28, 2012 4:24 pm

      This was a great story for Memorial Day. To Sgt James Sevier, my daughters and i really appreciate your service and all the other service men and women thats serving this great country of ours. I always tell my daughters that its OK to look up to our favorite sports stars and to collect thier cards but they arent our heroes, the people who have died for this country and who have served this country like yourself are the REAL heroes. Im so glad you got back into collecting James! This hobby is so fun and your daughter is still young but if she is anything like my daughters when she gets older, she will love busting packs and boxes with you just like mine do. I have a 12yr old and 10yr old and they love busting packs with me and i bet you they know more about sports then most boys their age, because of reading the back of our cards as we open them and seperate them. I hope you get back as soon as possible and safely as possible. My daughters told me to tell you hi and thank you for your service. Happy Memorial Day to you James and to you too Tracy and everybody else at Panini!

      • May 29, 2012 6:36 am

        Those are awfully kind words, Nick. Please tell your daughters that I said hi! Thank you for supporting all of the men and women who serve.

  4. Scott W permalink
    May 28, 2012 12:55 pm

    That’s really cool.

  5. Matt Gilman permalink
    May 28, 2012 12:57 pm

    Have a great Memorial Day James, Panini, Tracy Hackler and all of those who serve us overseas and do so much sacrifice for us. And hopefully James will be able to come home and of course visit Panini HQ.

    Great writeup and that’s an awesome thing you did mailing a care package. Kudos to Tracy and Panini. Great job guys!

  6. May 28, 2012 1:04 pm

    Perfect Article, for the day. We forget a lot, that these guys too have hobbies, and his smile is worth every card. SSG, come home soon, and enjoy those cards!

  7. SPC Schaffer (US Army) permalink
    May 28, 2012 1:19 pm

    Happy Memorial Day Brother !!!

  8. May 28, 2012 1:29 pm

    A real hero. Great story.

  9. Jamey permalink
    May 28, 2012 2:11 pm

    Excellent piece, Tracy, and thank you for bringing it to the Blog. It’s nice to see that the Staff Sarge’ pulled some sweet cards!
    I would like to take a moment to express my profound gratitude and extend my thanks to all of the men & women who are sacrificing so much so that I (we) may enjoy a BBQ with my friends and family.
    Enjoy the day, THack’ :)

  10. Greg Clark permalink
    May 28, 2012 2:33 pm

    –THANK YOU to all the men and women who currently serve this country and to all of the retired veterans who have served this country! Happy Memorial Day.

  11. Ryan / www.raymondberryautographs.com permalink
    May 28, 2012 3:36 pm

    As a former Navy brat, I can appreciate the sacrifice that these men and women make everyday. If James can get home before August 1, I think a trip to the National in Baltimore is in order. Stay safe.

    • May 29, 2012 6:40 am

      Yeah, Ryan.. I have been hoping that we would get home in time for the Nationals.. But I am afraid I am going to miss it by a couple of weeks! Dang the luck. Being back in the U.S. will be plenty enough for me, though!

  12. May 28, 2012 6:32 pm

    Hooah to you, sir!

  13. Winston Chiang permalink
    May 28, 2012 6:49 pm

    Staff Sergeant James: Thank you for serving the country! I wish the best for you and your family! Thank you!

  14. May 28, 2012 7:33 pm

    You have to give due to anyone that is willing to stand between their neighbors and those that wish us harm. Thank you Staff Sergeant, and thank you to your wife and daughter as well.

    Oh yeah, nice pull on the Dalton auto!

  15. wikipediablackout permalink
    May 28, 2012 9:11 pm

    God bless all of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen past and present. Excellent article Tracy.

  16. May 28, 2012 11:47 pm

    I have dealt with Doug a ton of times in the past. Super nice guy! Stay safe over there bud!!

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