Soldiers take part in 'Today' show segment
August 6, 2009
By L.A. Shively
- The Army and the Air Force join Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb for the July 29 edition of the "Today" show.
- Soldiers from G Company, 232nd Medical Battalion, took time off from instruction and boarded a river boat.
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The Army and the Air Force were part of the mix joining Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb for the July 29 edition of the "Today" show's "Today Takes a Vacation" series broadcast from the River Walk in San Antonio.
Soldiers waiting to start combat medic training, from G Company, 232nd Medical Battalion, took time off from instruction and boarded a river boat that floated through the set of the show, holding colorful signs and shouting, while Mariachis sang, danced and a bevy of San Antonio citizens waved and cheered, itching for their 15 seconds of broadcast fame on national television.
"San Antonio has art, culture, history, and our military is certainly part of our assets," said Robert "Bobby" Salluce, director, Community Relations and Strategic Initiatives for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He said the city is also "Military City USA" and known for the Alamo, Randolph and Lackland Air Bases, as well as Fort Sam Houston.
"Getting military members onto the show was an idea that came up at the last minute and we thought what a great way to bring the Soldiers and Airmen out to communicate their importance to our city and our country," Salluce said.
"It gave us an opportunity to show our support and for Americans to see the Soldiers they support daily," said Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Davis. The Miami, Fla. native said he really enjoyed himself. "The weather was just right and everything worked out as planned."
Although Davis originally enlisted thinking he would serve only three years, after 16 he knows he'll stay Army. "I like being around other Soldiers and serving our nation."
The group arrived early in the morning, before the sun rose, and as they waited to board the boat and get directions from the "Today" show crew, Master Sgt. Reginald Hall spent the extra time motivating his Soldiers, singing and getting physical.
"I love training Soldiers, I love chanting the Army songs and cadences and the spirit of the Army - I love it all," Hall said.
Several Soldiers challenged themselves with inclined pushups, feet planted on raised 3-foot wall and hands on the ground.
Hall, who hails from Albany, Ga., and is in charge of the advanced training track in the Department of Combat Medic Training, said he has been in the Army exactly 18 years and one month, and is looking at doing 23 years.
While Hall and his Soldiers sang, passersby stopped, listened, and then thanked the Soldiers for their commitment and sacrifice.
"It was very refreshing to see Americans showing love to their Soldiers and Airmen. It was a great opportunity. The boat was kind of tight, but the Soldiers were talking to each other and cheering each other on. Morale is very good."
"I thought it was pretty exciting. I'm not used to publicity and fanfare so it was kind of fun," said Spc. Chris Ryan, in training as a combat medic.
Ryan, a certified paramedic in Dallas, said he loved his field enough that he chose to enlist a little later in life in order to serve other Soldiers.
He said it was a good idea to get out into the public so they know he and his fellow Soldiers are approachable. "We are more personable to the public instead of being on the news with all the bad stuff that is broadcast. They can see the good stuff we do as well."