TAMPA, Fla. (Army News Service, March 3, 2008) Aca,!" Twenty future Soldiers entered the fighting cage at the "Xtreme Fighting Championship Mixed Martial Arts Salute to Our Armed Forces" Sunday, and raised their hands to support a different kind of fight.

During the opening ceremony of the fights, Brig. Gen. Daniel I. Schultz, commander of the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) from Orlando, Fla., entered the ring, faced the formation and gave the oath of enlistment to the future Soldiers.

Fans stood silently as the young men and women from the Tampa area swore to defend the nation, but when Schultz said, Aca,!A"Welcome to the Army,Aca,!A? the crowd of more than 10,000 applauded and cheered, and many of the future Soldiers showed their appreciation with a smile.

Aca,!A"I really liked it,Aca,!A? Brooke L. Davis, one of the future Soldiers, said after the ceremony.

Before the ceremony, Schultz spoke with the future Soldiers for several minutes, imparting advice about the Army.

Aca,!A"The last thing I expected then was that I was going to be a general,Aca,!A? Schultz said of his first days in the Army. Aca,!A"Keep your options open.Aca,!A?

To honor the military, personnel were treated to free admission to the fights, patriotic music was played during intermissions, the Army dragster was on display, pre-recorded broadcasts of deployed personnel were aired to introduce each fight, two Soldiers fast-roped from the ceiling of the arena, and wounded warriors were individually recognized ringside.

The future Soldiers were excited to be at the event, and amazed at the support they received.

Aca,!A"I feel honored,Aca,!A? James Foster revealed. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs awesome.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"I didnAca,!a,,ct expect it to be so big of an event,Aca,!A? Amanda Marshall-Riling exclaimed. Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cve never even been to a fight before.Aca,!A? Marshal-Riling joined the Army along with her husband, acknowledging that both of them saw the potential the Army could give them.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm going to take advantage of the opportunities for schooling. This way we can make a future together,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm going to keep my options open.Aca,!A?

Their reasons for joining varied, but the recruits all agreed enlisting would benefit their futures.

Aca,!A"I made the decision for me and my wife,Aca,!A? Foster said. Aca,!A"She thinks itAca,!a,,cs a little dangerous, but is supportive in my decision.Aca,!A?

(Spc. Morrene E. Randell serves with the 204th Public Affairs Detachment.)