Even casual fans know the halftime show of a football game can produce the most memorable moments of a gridiron event.
The pageantry, flair, ceremony and occasional wardrobe malfunction combine to create lasting images.
For the more than 25,000 fans who attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and Air Force football game here at Mackay Stadium on Sept. 28, the lasting memories generated from the night will likely be the halftime Nevada Army Guard mass re-enlistment and enlistment ceremony that featured 45 soldiers and, oh yeah, the Wolf Pack’s hard-fought 45-42 victory over the Falcons.
Twenty-three of the participants in the ceremony were brand-new soldiers. Twenty-two of the soldiers were veteran Guardsmen who decided to extend their commitment to serve the state and nation.
Patriotism and pride was on display as the crowd cheered and showered the Soldiers with praise, encouragement and support following the ceremony.
Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, commander of Nevada Army National Guard, administered the oath of enlistment.
“Events like this are tremendous because it’s an event that allows soldiers to publicly display their military commitment,” Hanifan said. “By participating in more events like this, we hope to continue to improve our re-enlistment numbers and continue to maintain the strength of the Nevada Army National Guard.
“We need to maintain the proper number of soldiers who will keep us able to perform our missions overseas and respond to any emergencies that happen in the state of Nevada.”
The 45 Soldiers reflected the Nevada Guard’s diverse spectrum of soldiers. Some were veteran career Soldiers while others enlisted because they believed military service was a stepping stone to a promising future. Others said they enlisted and re-enlisted in the National Guard because it’s the ideal way to serve their country and state while living and working in their chosen Nevada community.
“I need two more years for my 20 years,” said Staff Sgt. Henry Zelaya from Joint Force Headquarters. “I re-enlisted for six more years.”
Some soldiers mentioned the educational benefits offered to Guardsmen as a reason for re-enlisting.
“I just started to go to college, a little late in my career, but it is really never too late to stop learning,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Baker. “I’m currently attending Grace Bible College online and love it. I’d highly recommend Soldiers and Airman take advantage of educational opportunities early in their life to help boost their careers.”
The consensus was the game and re-enlistment ceremony marked a day of triumph for the military.
“The admirable qualities embodied in our soldiers, our students and our athletes were prominently showcased today,” said Army veteran Angela Lewis.