SEATTLE As a college student hanging out in my dorm room playing video games, this is probably the last place I thought Id ever spend my Fourth of July, Spc. Donavon Wisher said.
This, was Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners, specifically in the middle of centerfield.
Clad in his Army Service Uniform, Wisher, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Special Troops Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade, was standing just behind the first baseline. He, along with 29 other Soldiers assigned to the 593rd STB, volunteered to unfurl the American flag during July Fourth pre-game festivities. The Soldiers had finished their practice and were killing time before stepping out in front of the almost 22,000 fans.
Ive only been in the Army for six months, but I am still extremely proud to be able to stand out there, both as a Soldier and an American, especially on the Fourth of July, Wisher said. He was honored to be able to take part in a ceremony of this magnitude and hoped that those in attendance would enjoy their performance.
Standing high above the field, in what some might call the nosebleed section, Hap Newsom gives a different take on the performance. Newsom is a seating host at Safeco Field. He spent six years in the Navy as a fire control technician (ballistic) and his father retired from the Air Force. His fathers love of the Air Force gave Hap his name, after General of the Air Force Henry H. Hap Arnold, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
Im fortunate that with the job I have here that I get to meet a lot of veterans both active, retired and former military, Newsom said. Its always fun to chat with them, because we always have more than one thing in common, whether youre Air Force, Navy, Army or Marine Corps, youve stood up at one point in your life and said, Here I am, you dont have to draft me, Im coming. I am so proud of these young men and women.
One of those young men is 1st Lt. Justin Richard, the executive officer for HHC, 593rd STB. Richard has been a baseball fan his entire life, but thought his Army career would probably take him to Iraq or Afghanistan, rather than the manicured grass of Safeco Field.
I cant think of something more American to do on the 4th of July than participate as part of a military group during a baseball game. I dont know whose idea it was to ask us to take part in this, but as a baseball fan this is one of the coolest things Ive ever done.
The 22,000 fans that stood on their feet, applauding as the Soldiers marched out of the tunnel, agreed.