BALTIMORE (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2007) -- As a child, Sgt. Tommy Rieman loved GI Joe action figures so much that he dreamed of being a "real American hero." Little did he realize that one day his dream would come true.

This past weekend at the Army-Navy game, Sgt. Rieman, Delta Company, 1/116th Infantry, Virginia Army National Guard, worked the Army Football Toss station in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, handing out prizes - including his own action figure.

Sgt. Rieman is one of six real Soldiers featured in the video game, "America's Army: True Soldiers." Although the game for the Xbox 360 gaming system wasn't released until mid-November, the action figures of the Soldiers hit store shelves in August.

The Soldiers chosen as the game's heroes received Silver Stars or Bronze Stars with "Valor" device for heroism in combat. During his 18 months in Iraq, Sgt. Rieman was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star and Army Commendation Medal of Valor while with Echo Company, 51st Infantry Long Range Surveillance Unit, V Corps, out of Germany.

"It's surreal and a lot of fun. I enjoy it, but it's not always what it's cracked up to be," Sgt. Rieman said. "I have a lot of family members who love to dress my action figure up and give me a hard time for being a 'doll.' I take offense to that. I'm an action figure; I have chest hair."

The video game gives him a hard time too.

"I've been playing it every day since its launch, but I still haven't beaten it," he said with exasperation. "I love it, but it's a tough game."

All joking aside, Sgt. Rieman knows that being a hero can be tough. Just like Spiderman said, "With great power comes great responsibility."

"You have to be careful not to let your guard down because you're held to a higher standard than others, so you've got to constantly maintain your composure and watch what you say," Sgt. Rieman said. "It can be a strain, but I'm appreciative of the opportunity to be a hero.

"To me there's no greater job out there. The accomplishments and the amount of work you put into being a great Soldier is very rewarding," he said. "That's why it's important for the Army to be everywhere because it's great to be able to tell people what you do."

One of the reasons Sgt. Rieman enjoys interacting with the public is to dispel stereotypes about the Army.

"Not everybody knows enough about the Army or what Soldiers do. If you sat them down, nine out of 10 people would give you a generalization. We're out here to tell them the truth about the cohesiveness, the hard work and effort, the training and our capabilities," he said. "We need to give everybody the opportunity to hear the facts and make up their own minds about whether they want to serve or not. What greater venue to do so than the Army-Navy game'"

Though he didn't like the final score, Sgt. Rieman enjoyed his first Army-Navy game.

"The Army and the Navy are gray brothers, and it's a fun rivalry. We can give each other a hard time, but at the end we all come together, and that's the most important thing," he said. "After serving in Iraq, I'm thankful for all the men and women who have fought through the years so it could be possible for people to come out and enjoy a football game."

These same wartime experiences have also helped shape his perspective on being an action hero.

"I love being on the video game and being an action figure; it's one of the coolest things you could ever have, but it's not actually deploying and saving lives. To me, the coolest thing is having those guys raise their right hands to serve their country."

To check out the stories of all the real heroes featured in the game, go to www.americasarmy.com.

Page last updated Mon December 3rd, 2007 at 00:00