WASHINGTON (June 24, 2014) -- Members of the U.S. Army Drill team and U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" performed in front of thousands in the sweltering heat at Nationals Park as part of the Washington Nationals Army Day celebration, Wednesday, prior to their game with the Houston Astros.

Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), were recognized for their service prior to the game as they paraded out onto the field to watch Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno throw out the first pitch, and Secretary of the Army John McHugh deliver the game ball.

"I always love performing at big venues like Nationals Park. The support from the crowd is overwhelming and it just solidifies the fact that what we are doing is important and appreciated by so many great Americans," said Cpl. Derek Ivey, U.S. Army Drill team soloist. "We upped the difficulty of our routine and added a couple of minutes to our performance to show the American people the discipline of their U.S. Army Soldiers."

Odierno watched as U.S. Army Drill team soloists performed in center field prior to the ceremonial first pitch. The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" Swamp Romp performed pre-game music on the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk prior to the game. The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" Chorus performed the Star-Spangled Banner. The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps were also part of the pregame festivities.

Three Old Guard Soldiers were selected as VIPs for the game, which allowed them to watch batting practice from the field before the game from the Lexus Presidents Suite with Odierno, McHugh, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.

"It's not what I was expecting, just being down here on the field is special," said Spc. Vincent A. Cottle, H-HC Regiment, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and one of the VIPs. "I am glad the weather is good for us because I may never get this opportunity again."

"It's going to be strange. This is one of those things that if you work hard you get rewarded," said Staff Sgt. Jacob C. West, Headquarters Company, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and one of the VIPs. "I won the best warrior competition for U.S. Army Military District of Washington. I am looking forward to the game. This will be my first time in box seats anywhere."

The Nationals started the game out well, but starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez labored in the fourth inning surrendering four runs to the Astros. However in the seventh inning, third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a home-run, which proved to be the spark the Nats needed to rally and win the game 6-5.