By Jennifer Villaume, Public Affairs Specialist, Baton Rouge Recruiting Battalion
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Local service members will present the Nation’s Colors to kick off the Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes Benz Superdome here on Sunday, Feb. 3. 2013.
Watching the Super Bowl is an anticipated and loved American pastime, whether you know the rules or even if your favorite team is not playing. This game is woven into the fabric of our Nation’s identity and culture.
But before the kickoff and before the first commercial, the men and women carrying our Nation’s Colors will march in unison, representing the whole of the military force which preserves that American identity and culture.
“This is a unique experience because this will be the first time I will have the opportunity to work alongside every branch of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Antonio Frese. “Usually joint operations involve two to three service components, so this is a rare opportunity to be exposed to all branches.”
The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard is made up of local recruiters from each branch which serves New Orleans and surrounding areas.
“It is quite an honor to be selected to lead our team in presenting the National Colors at such a huge event. I am a soldier and a recruiter. Not only will I be representing the Army; I am representing what it means to serve,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ervin Davis. “It will be a positive message for all the young men and women watching who may have a desire to serve their country to see the professionalism and pride of our men and women in uniform.”
The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard has met for practice two days a week leading up to the Super Bowl at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chase, La. The full dress rehearsal is Friday before the big game inside the Superdome.
“Since most of the color guard works out of the Metairie Recruiting Centers, I have contact with them every day, which makes it so much easier to connect personally and emotionally,” said Army Staff Sgt. Lester Scott. “I can train with my battle rifle man in between practices so that we get our timing down. Every branch has different drill and ceremony procedures so practice is essential.”
For a ten-member color guard practice does make perfect.
“I am rehearsing with my counterpart, Lance Cpl. West, to ensure our drum sound is together and that our movements are mirrored,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen Howell. “We have to be able to execute by time and feel instead of sight since we are not standing next to each other. Many of my friends and family will be watching, and I want them to be proud of my effort. We will be the face of the Marine Corps.”
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Daphne Gilles just arrived to her new unit four months ago.
“I am extremely honored that I was selected,” she said. “I was given the position of Captain of Coast Guard District Eight Color Guard and Honor Guard Team upon my arrival. It is a tremendous privilege to represent the Coast Guard.”
Even with all the practicing and precision required, to everyone involved it will be a memorable and fun day.
“I will be able to point to a large-framed picture on my wall of me holding the Air Force flag at the 50 yard line and say proudly, ‘The United States Air Force trusted in me enough to represent the Service in front of 100 million people world-wide.’ It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Frese.
The Super Bowl is also a connection to home for many deployed overseas.
“I have been deployed twice, both for one year each. I missed my baby’s birthdays and other special events. The Super Bowl was the only event that I requested off while overseas, knowing that we were all watching together,” said Scott. “Something about this football game brings us all together no matter what is going on. This game has meant the world to me by connecting me to home and now I get to be a rifle man next to the American Flag. It is an honor.”
This year, they get to watch together. Scott’s two children will be in the Superdome cheering on their dad.
Joint Armed Forces Color Guard team members (left to right):
Staff Sgt. Stephen Howell, U.S. Marine Corps Band, New Orleans (drummer not seen)
Staff Sgt. Lester Scott, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company (not shown, holding rifle)
Sgt. 1st Class Ervin Davis, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company
Staff Sgt. Joshua Reyes, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company
Gunny Sgt. Toland Howard, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company
Petty Officer 2nd Class Holly Diaz, U.S. Navy Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company
Petty Officer 2nd Class Daphne Gilles, U.S. Coast Guard, District 8 New Orleans
Master Sgt. Antonio Frese, U.S. Air Force Recruiting Battalion, Maxwell Air Force Base
SSgt Adrian Munoz, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company
Lance Cpl. Randy West, U.S. Marine Corps Band, New Orleans (not shown, drummer)
Since the Superdome opened in 1975, it was the site of six Super Bowls. The “dome” underwent a six-year major renovation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is now the fifth largest NFL stadium in the country.