By Karl Weisel, USAG WiesbadenOctober 16, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany (Oct. 16, 2012) -- It was a long day Oct. 12 for Alex Trebek and the Jeopardy crew, but by late afternoon they had a group of Wiesbaden service members and family members qualified to be considered for a special July 4, 2013, tribute to the military edition of the popular game show.
Starting at 9 a.m., Wiesbaden military community members were invited to stop by the Community Activity Center on Clay Kaserne to meet Trebek and to audition for Jeopardy. After picking up an autograph and posing for a photo with the multiple Emmy-award-winning moderator, service and family members had a chance to try out.
Since military members serve so far from home, "we decided to go out and test them where they're serving," said Trebek, adding that Jeopardy has been conducting overseas auditions since the mid-1980s.
"This is my 13th USO trip to various bases around the world. We want to let military families overseas know they are not forgotten," Trebek said, adding, "I've always had a soft spot for the military. They're friendly and have a sense of honor and duty to country. This is just letting the military know we appreciate what they're doing."
"I've been watching the show since I was in middle school," said Spc. Sean Rambaran, 24th Military Intelligence Battalion, shortly before qualifying for the afternoon call-back round.
V Corps' Capt. Briana Tellado and Capt. Eric Tellado said they felt pretty good going in to the first audition round.
She's the brainiac in the family," said Eric Tellado. "We watch the show on television and always compete on the questions. She always gets them right while I often get them wrong."
"I paid attention in all my classes," explained Briana Tellado, jokingly.
"I grew up watching Jeopardy," said USO volunteer coordinator Marcus Perry. "To be a part of a military Jeopardy is really special.
Perry and several other USO and Wiesbaden Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers volunteers were on hand to help facilitate the autograph and audition session.
"It was really nice to see how he (Trebek) interacts so freely with the Soldiers," added Perry. "It was really obvious that he cares about the Soldiers."
Seeing how Jeopardy and its theme song have become such a cultural phenomenon is a great feeling, said the show's longtime master of ceremonies. "It makes me feel good, because it means the people have taken the show to heart."
After passing the first test in the morning, 18 individuals were invited back to take another 50-question Jeopardy test. Only a few "survivors" made it to the final round, a one-on-one interview to be considered for the pool of potential future players.
"It was exhilarating," said Sgt. Gelasio Anglo of the Public Health Command (Veterinary Services). "I've always seen it on TV, but never in person."
Anglo, who made it to the afternoon round, was among those who washed out on the 50 questions. "It's not hard, but being under time pressure makes it harder."
In the end, Trebek and company left with a handful of qualified applicants -- some of whom may be among the 12 finalists from around the world invited to play Jeopardy during the March taping for the July 4th show. A Jeopardy representative explained that the names of all those who qualified will be kept on file for the next 18 months for possible appearances.
It was the last stop in Europe for the Jeopardy team after stops in Aviano, Naples, Ramstein and Wiesbaden.