Moody Airmen help unfurl flag at Braves game

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brad Barth
  • 336th Recruiting Squadron
On July 4, hundreds of Georgia Airmen, including many from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., helped unfurl a 160-foot by 300-foot American flag during a July 4 Atlanta Braves baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta.

There were also servicemembers from Robins AFB, Ga., Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., the Georgia Air National Guard and members of the Delayed Enlistment Program who were present to open the massive flag in front of 44,000 people.

The Braves organization is very patriotic and they wanted a pre-game ceremony they felt would appropriately honor our nation's military. They approached us with the idea of presenting the "superflag" and I knew we could make it happen.

The Airmen were greeted at Turner Field hours before the game by two representatives from the company that provided the flag. During this time, the Airman were divided into five groups and given specific jobs to ensure the massive flag could be opened without touching the ground.

After practice, the volunteers changed into their uniforms and prepared to present the flag to a crowd of tens of thousands of fans. As they carried the furled flag onto the field, the magnitude of the event became more apparent.

"The moment you step onto the field and look around you think to yourself, 'Is this real?'" said Jennifer Smith, DEP member. "The applause and whistles from the crowd filled us up with joy."

After getting into position, the volunteers leaped into action to open the flag. While the crowd roared with anticipated excitement, the experience was humbling for many volunteers.

"I've never felt as much pride as I did when the crowd roared as the flag opened; chills shot down my spine," said Senior Airman Brett Sims, a 23rd Force Support Squadron member from Moody. "It was the proudest and most humbling experience I've ever felt."

Another Airman felt the same way during the playing of the National Anthem.

"Hearing the National Anthem has always given me chills, but being in uniform and holding an enormous American flag on the Fourth of July while a formation of T-38 Talons flew over almost made me cry", said Airman 1st Class Alexandra Wadsworth, an air traffic control apprentice from Robbins.

As the volunteers made their way to the stands after the game, many encountered grateful fans. One particular encounter meant a lot to Maj. Mark Ashman of Moody.

"As I neared the top of the stairs, I saw a man in a wheelchair," he explained. "As I approached him, he rendered a sharp salute and I saluted him back. Through the course of our conversation I found out he was a sergeant major in the U.S. Marine Corps who had been injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq. During our brief conversation I looked at this man and quickly understood the meaning of sacrifice."