Carolina Panthers salute service members
By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 22, 2013
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers held a "Salute to Service" ceremony before their game against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 18.
The festivities included the 82nd Airborne Chorus from Fort Bragg, N.C., singing the national anthem, a Purple Heart ceremony, a joint service honor guard posting the colors, a USO choir singing each service's song, service members leading the Panthers out of the tunnel before the game, and an oath of enlistment ceremony, where 10 Airmen from Shaw re-enlisted.
The re-enlistment ceremony featured service members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. They donned their dress uniforms and swore in before kickoff.
"It's been very educational for me," said Steve Young, ESPN Monday Night Football commentator. "I think the NFL has done a great job showing the public parts of the military that we normally wouldn't get to see."
Spectators, coaches and players got to thank service members and veterans for their service.
"It put a face on it," said Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers wide receiver. "A lot of times we aren't able to be in their area, so it's a great opportunity to see them and how they are celebrated and honored."
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Berry, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions support equipment maintainer, was one of the Airmen to re-enlist.
"My wife is a huge New England fan, and my daughter follows in her steps," Berry said, "and it happened to be on my daughter's birthday."
Berry spoke of what an amazing opportunity the ceremony was.
"You don't [typically] get to go and re-enlist on a football field," said Berry, "that's pretty cool."
Often, Air Force re-enlistments are small private affairs, with a commissioned officer to officiate and the re-enlistee present.
Berry and the other service members re-enlisted in front of a sold-out stadium, and the Panthers gave them a night to remember, holding off the Patriots on the final play of regulation to win 24-20.