NEW ORLEANS --
Local service members will present the nation’s colors to kick off Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes Benz Superdome here Feb. 3.
But before the kickoff service members carrying the nation’s colors will march in unison, representing the whole of the military force which preserves that American identity and culture.
“This is a unique experience because this will be the first time I will have the opportunity to work alongside every branch of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Antonio Frese. “Usually joint operations involve two to three service components, so this is a rare opportunity to be exposed to all branches.”
The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard is made up of local recruiters from each branch which serves New Orleans and surrounding areas.
“It is quite an honor to be selected to lead our team in presenting the National Colors at such a huge event. I am a soldier and a recruiter. Not only will I be representing the Army; I am representing what it means to serve,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ervin Davis. “It will be a positive message for all the young men and women watching who may have a desire to serve their country to see the professionalism and pride of our men and women in uniform.”
The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard has met for practice two days a week leading up to the Super Bowl at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chase, La. The full dress rehearsal is being conducted today.
“Every branch has different drill and ceremony procedures so practice is essential,” Army Staff Sgt. Lester Scott said.
For a 10-member color guard practice does make perfect.
“We have to be able to execute by time and feel, instead of sight, since we are not standing next to each other,” Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Stephen Howell said. “Many of my friends and family will be watching, and I want them to be proud of my effort. We will be the face of the Marine Corps.”
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Daphne Gilles arrived at her new unit just four months ago.
“I am extremely honored that I was selected,” Gilles said. “I was given the position of Captain of Coast Guard District Eight Color Guard and Honor Guard Team upon my arrival. It is a tremendous privilege to represent the Coast Guard.”
Even with all the practicing and precision required, to everyone involved it will be a memorable and fun day.
“I will be able to point to a large-framed picture on my wall of me holding the Air Force flag at the 50-yard line and say proudly, ‘The United States Air Force trusted in me enough to represent the service in front of 100 million people worldwide.’ It doesn’t get any better than that,” Frese said.
The Super Bowl provides a connection to home for many service members deployed overseas.
“I have been deployed twice, both for one year each. I missed my baby’s birthdays and other special events. The Super Bowl was the only event that I requested off while overseas, knowing that we were all watching together,” Scott said. “Something about this football game brings us all together no matter what is going on. This game has meant the world to me by connecting me to home, and now I get to be a rifle man next to the American flag. It is an honor.”
This year, they get to watch together. Scott’s two children will be in the Superdome cheering on their dad.
Other Joint Armed Forces Color Guard team members include:
-- Staff Sgt. Joshua Reyes, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company;
-- Gunnery Sgt. Toland Howard, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company;
-- Petty Officer 2nd Class Holly Diaz, U.S. Navy Recruiting Battalion, New Orleans Company;
-- Staff Sgt. Adrian Munoz, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Battalion, Baton Rouge Company; and
-- Lance Cpl. Randy West, U.S. Marine Corps Band, New Orleans.
Since the Superdome opened in 1975, it was the site of six Super Bowls. The “dome” underwent a six-year major renovation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is now the fifth largest NFL stadium in the country.