America's defenders...

  • Published
  • By Charles Freeman
  • 75 Air Base Wing Public Affairs
For just a split second, something pretty cool occurred on the evening of Feb. 1 during Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Yes, I admittedly, was one of the estimated 95.4 million viewers who watched with much anticipation the granddaddy of all sporting events. Frankly, as a sports fan, I enjoyed all the hype leading up to the big game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If you saw the game maybe you noticed that this event had more of a patriotic flare right from the start.

Perhaps it was the pre-game interview Matt Lauer, Today Show host, did with President Barack Obama. Among other things, Obama spoke about his daughters, his mother-in-law, the economy and even his prediction that the Steelers would win in a close game.

There was one other thing the president mentioned briefly that stuck with me.
He said he wanted to give a special "shout out" to the troops overseas who were watching the game. "You allow not just the game to take place, but our liberties to be preserved and we are very grateful to you," said Obama.

Although I'm not active duty military, it still felt like the president was talking directly to me-- like getting a pat on the back. More than ever before, it dawned on me that those who wear the uniform and those of us who support the military, hold a unique place in society.

Whether stateside or overseas, military or civilians who support the armed forces, we have a job to do in defending America. I believe many of us who work at Hill Air Force Base often take our jobs for granted. I certainly have been guilty of that. We may not fully comprehend how our role contributes to the overall success of those who are relying on our contributions to the fight.

Last I checked, Federal civil servants still take the oath of office by which we swear (affirm) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

Yes, it probably gets a little discouraging at times with deployments, downsizing, exercises, inspections and various other demands but like our military brothers and sisters, we have a promise to keep.

I'm reminded how a group of Marines honored such a commitment many years ago. On May 28th, 1918, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines of the 4th Marine Brigade were sent to help in the Belleau Wood sector. As they were approaching they were met by the French Commander of the troops that were already there who advised Marine Colonel Wendell C. Neville that the discreet thing to do was retreat. Neville's reply was a characteristic "Retreat Hell! We just got here!" They stayed and drove the numerically superior Germans out of Belleau Wood and other strong holds. It was there that the ferocious fighting that the Marines displayed caused the Germans to start referring to the Marines as "Teufelhunden", which means, "Devil Dogs."

What a picture of determination and pride Colonel Neville and his men demonstrated during that encounter.

Now, back to the Super Bowl and my opening comment about that cool occurrence just before the start of the game; it was the pinpoint precision flyover of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. For only a few seconds they wowed the crowd. They were the center of everyone's attention. It felt good to be associated with the Air Force.

I had seen them many times before but this time it just seemed a little more special.