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Niners fan photo of MHS grad, soldiers in Afghanistan goes viral
This photograph showing Patrick Gagen of Manteca, second from left, and other soldiers with the Bravo Company 1-126 AVN Regt California National Guard in Stockton who are serving in Afghanistan and posing on top of a helicopter, has been picked up by major news media and the San Francisco Giants Facebook page. - photo by Photo Contributed

The family of PFC Patrick Gagen is doubly excited about the upcoming Super Bowl XLVII game on Sunday.

They are diehard Niners fans, for sure. Although the family moved to Manteca years ago from the City by the Bay, they all left their heart in San Francisco.

But their Super Bowl excitement will kick up a notch because of a Niners fan photograph that has been posted on the San Francisco Giants Facebook showing Gagen with other soldiers in Afghanistan. The soldiers are shown holding pennants of the SF Niners, the SF Giants, and the California flag to show that they are all from the Golden State.

“They can’t be there for the game but they will be there in spirit. That’s what the picture is all about,” said Gagen’s father, Miguel Ramirez.

The soldiers posed for the photo on top of an Army helicopter. Gagen’s sister, April Marie Ramirez, posted the picture on the social media site.

“This is a great photo, a great morale booster for the troops, and that’s why she posted it on Facebook,” the soldier’s father said.

So far, the photograph has received more than 68, 715 like hits on the San Francisco Giants’ Facebook page. Gagen, 30, is the second soldier from the left holding the Niners pennant. He is the only one in the group wearing sunglasses. The other soldiers pictured are, from left: PFC Drew Scafani, SPC Christopher Hoover, SSG Bobby Muyres, PFC Cameron Powell, and PFC Salvador Puiz, Sgt Oliver Dominguez. All are with the Bravo Company 1-126 AVN Regt California National Guard in Stockton.

The message attached to the photograph on the World Series Champions Facebook page reads: “This amazing photo was sent to us from San Francisco Giants fans stationed in Afghanistan. They missed the World Series and will miss the Super Bowl, so they are sending their support. Like this to send your support to all the brave men and women in our Armed Forces.”

The photograph has also caught the attention of other media outlets including several major television networks.

Gagen, who enlisted in the military soon after graduating from Manteca High where he was consistently involved in sports such as track, has been in Afghanistan for a year. This is his first tour of duty in that war-torn country. He is an aviation mechanic whose job is repairing helicopters.

Gagen is not the only one in his family currently serving in the military. Younger brother and also a Manteca High graduate, Miguel Ramirez II, is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He was formerly assigned at the Stockton Army Guard station but has recently been promoted and has relocated to Sacramento where he and his wife, Moana “Mo” whom he married last year, and their three-month-old son Miguel William III, live at present.

The Ramirez family’s roots are in San Francisco; hence, their affinity also to the S.F. Giants. But they pulled up stakes in 1986 and moved to Manteca because “this is a great town, a great place to raise a family,” said Miguel Ramirez, a pressman who is currently working for the San Jose Mercury News and The Chronicle.

The family’s history is steeped in military tradition. Miguel Ramirez’s father also served in the U.S. Army and is a veteran of the Korean War.

Patrick Gagen is Miguel Ramirez’s son with first wife Tamara Powers.

Adding to the excitement of this year’s Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 3, is the history-making Super sibling rivalry between the two brothers who happen to be the head coaches of the opposing teams, Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh and sibling Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers. The CBS Super Bowl kick-off show will begin at 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.