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Air National Guard captivates fans at Wizards NBA game

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michael Odle
  • 113th Wing Public Affairs
Rising in unison and clapping feverously as if Merlin himself had cast a spell, a frenzy swept the crowd at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24. It wasn't the local National Basketball Association team, the Washington Wizards, causing the commotion, but the men and women standing proudly center court that roused the fans to cheer and many to stand. The evening highlighted the Airmen of the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, a sort of community appreciation night, hosted by the Washington Wizards and Monumental Sports.

To jumpstart the awestruck crowd, two of the 2014 Airmen of the Year stood proudly in line with the Wizards basketball team on the center court. The crowd roared loudly as Senior Master Sgt. William Liston and Tech. Sgt. Justin Foulsham were introduced; the two Airmen stood with their hands firmly grasping the game-day sprit banner, as if to transfer the energy, dedication and commitment of the Air National Guard to the team. Followed by a wave of the American flag, the crowd fell silent as the 113th Honor Guard presented the colors. Silence rippled throughout the arena and all eyes fell on the Airmen who effortlessly glided across the court to display the colors.

As the game began and the Wizards displayed their athletic prowess on the court, 113th Wing Airmen also displayed their unique skills, albeit in the arena concourse. Recruiters Master Sgt. Sean Young and Tech. Sgt. Ronald Yarnell used their power of words to discuss with Wizards fans the benefits of joining the nation's premier Air National Guard unit.

"People don't always put two and two together about the Air National Guard," said Young. "We tell our story, explain who we are, where we are located and people start to get it."

"This type of event is all about awareness," Young added. "We can never have too much awareness about the D.C. Air National Guard."

When the buzzer sounded at halftime, game goers' attention turned yet again to the D.C. Air National Guard. Prominently taking their spot for all to see were four Airmen of the 113th Security Forces Squadron who recently deployed to Southwest Asia.

"I was nervous and I had a pit in my stomach," said Airman 1st Class Anthony Robinson. "But when I got on the floor with my other Airmen in front of the thousands of fans screaming and waving, it turned into excitement, smiles and waves. It was a great feeling representing the 113th."

Also joining the distinguished group on the basketball court was Senior Airman Ishmael Josiah, who had reenlisted that day for another six years of serving his D.C. community and country as a Capital Guardian.

"I would have never imagined doing anything like this," said Josiah.  "It was just awesome to be down there [on the court] with the crowd cheering. I felt a real sense of pride."

"It was bright," he added. "I couldn't see my wife [in the stands], but I knew she was out there recording every moment. Even after the event on our way out, it took us awhile to get out of the arena with people waving and coming up to us, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service."

It was a good night to be a D.C. Air National Guardsman. The Air National Guard was present - on the court and on the screens.

"The D.C. Air National Guard was plastered on every event monitor," said Deputy Public Affairs Officer Capt. Renee Lee. "It was exciting and mesmerizing."