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AF participates in Veterans Day tribute at Redskins' game

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

LANDOVER, Md. (Nov. 15, 2004) -- Thousands of sports fans and patriots were entertained here Nov. 14 by the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals football teams and the U.S. Air Force.

The day's main attraction was the Redskins' battle against the Bengals, but as part of a tribute to American military veterans, the Air Force participated in the pre-game activities and halftime show in the stadium.

Maj. Katherine Strus sings the national anthem during opening ceremonies at the Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals football game here Nov. 14. It was part of a Veterans Day salute to the Air Force. Major Struss is assigned to the Air Force's legislative liaison office at the Pentagon. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper kicked off Air Force participation at the event by witnessing the pre-game coin toss. Cincinnati won the toss and chose to receive.

Following the coin toss, members of the Air Force Honor Guard from Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., presented the colors.

Maj. Katherine Strus, with the Air Force's legislative liaison office at the Pentagon, sang the national anthem before the game. During the last few bars of the anthem, a four-ship formation of F-15 Eagles from Langley Air Force Base, Va., performed a flyover.

"Singing for the Washington Redskins on Veterans Day was more incredible than I could have ever imagined," Major Strus said. "It's giving something back to active-duty (Airmen), and a way to say thank you to so many veterans and family members -- many of which (veterans) never came home."

Following the flyover, the aircraft landed at nearby Andrews AFB and the pilots traveled to the stadium. At halftime the pilots and crew chiefs of the F-15s, along with General Jumper and his wife, were introduced to the crowd.

The crew chiefs included Staff Sgts. Randall Helton, Dennis Wild and Dustin Ossman, and Senior Airman Avery Johnston. The flyover pilots were Lt. Col. Robert DeStasio, Maj. David Toogood and Capts. Henry Schantz and Jason Stinchcomb.

The pilots and crew were all assigned to the 71st Fighter Squadron at Langley.

Halftime entertainment was provided by the Air Force Band's Singing Sergeants.

The Redskins ultimately lost, 17-10.