Durham Bulls hit home run with Panther Brigade, Army birthday
June 15, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. " The Durham Bulls and their fans, Paratroopers and Families of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, spent the Army’s 236th birthday, June 14th, celebrating at the ballpark.
The 3rd Brigade Panthers descended on Blackwell St., the promenade at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on game days, and set up interactive displays of some crowd-pleasing equipment and personnel.
As they made their way to the ballpark entrance, thousands of fans, especially the kids, were elated to see real Paratroopers in uniform, sit at and peer through the panoramic telescope site of a 105mm Howitzer, try on Paratroopers personal protective equipment, and hold M4 carbines and 249 squad automatic weapon (SAW).
Fans, young and old alike, were lining up at the Panther displays, such as the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Humvee with a tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missile launcher, and the medics front line ambulance, to take cell phone photos, shake hands, and offer thanks to the Soldiers for their service.
“Everyone mostly wants to hold the M4 and the SAW and have their picture taken,” said Spc. Nilfredo Tomas, an infantryman with Troop C, 5th Squadron, 73rd Airborne Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re getting a lot of ‘thank yous’, hugs and handshakes as well.”
Once inside the stadium, wide-eyed fans were treated to the Panther Brigade color guard, which ceremoniously presented the colors at the game’s start.
Throughout the game, which began as a battle of dueling pitchers and ended in a 1-0 victory for the Bulls over the Norfolk Tide, regular “shout-outs” from fans were played on the stadium’s jumbo-screen in left-center field.
Between innings, fans were treated to the entertaining antics of the Bull’s mascot, Wool E. Bull, who donned an Army Combat Uniform for the evening’s festivities.
Pfc. Osvaldo Vargas, a UAV mechanic with Shadow Platoon, Company B, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, won tee shirts for the section behind the home team dugout when, to the crowd’s cheers, he successfully knocked out more than 60 push-ups in one minute.
All Army service members, past and present, were honored during the game, as well as the blue-star families of currently deployed 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
During the customary seventh-inning stretch fans were awed by the All-American Chorus’ rendition of “God Bless America,” which garnered a standing ovation and thunderous applause from the more than 5,500 in attendance.
Despite no actual home runs hit during the game, judging from the reception the 3rd Brigade Panthers received, the crowds appreciation of the Army birthday, the smiles on the faces of those at the game, and the Bulls shut out victory, the whole event was a home run.