Two dozen Soldiers from Fort McCoy played leading roles in the opening ceremonies at a La Crosse baseball game July 24. The Soldiers' participation was part of the installation's support of the Army's celebration of the Year of the NCO.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Williams, an observer-controller-trainer with the 340th Training Support Battalion, 181st Infantry Brigade, threw out one of two ceremonial first pitches of the U.S.

Military All-Stars versus La Crosse All-Stars game at The Lumberyard ball field at Copeland Park. Copeland Park is home for the La Crosse Loggers minor league ball team.

Williams was joined by Joe Sweeney of La Crosse, who also threw a ceremonial pitch to start the game. Sweeney is a survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Sweeney was serving on the destroyer tender USS Whitney that was anchored near the USS Arizona, but the Whitney was not hit by enemy fire.

The opening ceremonies included introductions of Williams and Sweeney, local sponsors and the ballplayers from both teams.

The crowd joined in the singing of "Proud to be an American" and the national anthem. A poem was read about "Old Glory" to add to the mood of the night.

Soldiers from the 33rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and 81st BCT Soldiers marched with a large U.S. Flag onto the ball field and unfurled it to support the opening ceremonies. Soldiers from those two units are going through demobilization processing at Fort McCoy, having served a tour of duty overseas.

The U.S. Military All-Stars were in La Crosse for their 20th annual "Red, White and Blue Diplomacy Tour" to take on the La Crosse All-Stars, a team made up of local college stars - some former Loggers - and joined by Former Green Bay Packer Craig Newsome.

The U.S. Military All-Stars are made up of active military members from the five branches of the armed forces. From serving on ships, flying planes and conducting combat patrols around the world, they promote awareness of all service personnel serving the country.

The game was close throughout all nine innings, with the score tied 1-1 going into the ninth inning. A RBI single and a two-run home run hit by the camouflage-uniformed military team secured the lead and the win.

A fireworks show after the game brought "the rocket's red glare" home to all.