By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)November 20, 2008
ATLANTA, Ga. -- For a few brief moments, the U.S. Army Forces Command color guard held the attention of millions of eyes in their homes and thousands in the Georgia Dome awaiting the game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos Nov. 16.
"Everyone was saluting ... all eyes were on the flag. It felt good," said Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nicholas, rifleman.
The color guard team, comprised of Nichols, fellow rifleman Sgt. Timothy Braswell; Staff Sgt. Kelly Henderson, flag bearer, Installation Management Command - Southeast Region; Sgt. 1st Class Richard Tulloch, Army flag bearer; and Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Hood, national colors bearer, is one of the prominent ways the military interacts with the community.
"The point of us is to represent our command and portray the Army," said Hood, who also serves as the color guard noncommissioned officer in charge. Activities the color guard participates in include sporting events, change of command ceremonies, official ceremonies and parades, Hood said.
Like the players on the field, the brief performance by the color guard was backed by lots of practice. With event notification, Hood said the team practices a few hours a day the week prior to refresh their skills.
Then they hold one final practice prior to the event at the venue to see if there are any special instructions from coordinators.
"It may not look like much, but it is," said Nicholas. "You have to be in sync with the others and have good timing."
Nerves can also play a role, added Nichols, who has served with the guard for six months. However, like other challenges of the job, it, too, can be overcome through practice and teamwork.
Though she admits at times to tensing up, she said it is the support of her fellow Soldiers that helps her drive on and complete the mission.
Support isn\'t just limited to each other. For Braswell, those in attendance are also a rock of support. Because they wore their uniforms, several fans approached the team to thank them for their service, some even opting to get their photo taken with the heroes.
After the opening ceremony, the Soldiers received tickets to watch the game and a free meal and drink from the concession stand as a thank you from the Atlanta Falcons' staff. Though the Falcons tasted defeat, 24-20, the refreshments and experience left a good taste in the Soldiers' mouths.
"I enjoyed the support of the fans and the staff," Braswell said. "I felt privileged to be able to be part of the game's events."