Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson carries a piece of his great-grandfather’s memory with him at all times.
“We carry around his dog tags everywhere we go,” the Michigan standout told Fox News Digital of his great-grandfather Joseph Bernardi, a World War II Army Ranger.
Hutchinson, whose full name is Aidan Joseph Bernardi Hutchinson, in honor of his great-grandfather, spoke to Fox News ahead of Veterans Day and his partnership with USAA.
LIONS’ AIDAN HUTCHINSON SAYS DETROIT IS ‘READY FOR A CHANGE’ AMID BRILLIANT START
“This Veterans Day, I’m partnering with USAA, and we’re just trying to encourage Americans to go beyond thanks in order to honor our veterans, really just by having deeper conversations,” Hutchinson said.
According to The Associated Press, Hutchinson’s great-grandfather was a member of the World War II jungle fighting unit known as “Merrill’s Marauders.” He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts on a 1944 secret mission that began with 2,000 U.S. soldiers behind enemy lines in Japanese-occupied Burma and ended with approximately 200 Americans surviving.
“It’s always a day where you have that awareness,” Hutchinson said of Veterans Day and the legacy of his grandfather.
“It’s like you kind of sit there and you kind of sit back and reflect on everything that’s happened and what he’s done for our family and what he’s done for the country. And it’s very empowering to just observe a guy who just has that much courage. And it’s very inspiring.”
This year, USAA launched the “Beyond Thank You for Your Service” campaign, which looks to encourage civilians to honor veterans in their communities.
For his role, Hutchinson spoke with U.S. Air Force veteran Patrick Fitzhugh.
“The idea of sitting down and sharing those stories — or someone asking questions — that’s a lot more powerful. You know, giving your time to learn about that person,” Fitzhugh told Hutchinson in a video posted on Instagram.
Hutchinson played four seasons at Michigan. His junior year came to an abrupt end after he suffered a season-ending injury. He returned the following year and started all 14 games, registering 62 tackles, including 16½ for loss, and a program-record 14 sacks.
He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up that year and was drafted second overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In eight starts this season, Hutchinson has registered 4½ sacks, 23 tackles and four tackles for loss.