By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (July 06, 2006) -- On a sweltering hot day in the nation's capitol, five members of the armed forces were given the chance to take part in a Major League baseball game festivity.
Representatives from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard each threw out a ceremonial "first pitch" before the July 2 Washington Nationals' game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The event was part of the July 4th weekend's "Military Appreciation Day" activities at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium here.
Before game-related events kicked off, more than a dozen young men and women were sworn in to the armed forces by Army Brig. Gen. Arthur M. Bartell, Joint Staff vice director for operational plans and joint force development, Washington, D.C.
Following a performance of the national anthem by the Air Force Singing Sergeants, the service members took turns throwing their pitch to Nationals' pitcher Michael O'Conner.
Senior Airman Joseph G. Buzanowski, a public affairs specialist with Detachment 16 Air Force News Agency in Washington, D.C., represented the Air Force. Before the game, he practiced pitching with a rubber ball at his Arlington Va. office, but was still a little anxious when he took the field.
"To be honest, I was a little nervous going down there, I mean here we are in front of the entire stadium of baseball fans, and representing the (Air Force) amongst the other services," he said. "But we all pulled through, we all did well, we all got it to the plate -- I think that was the main goal."
Airman Buzanowski is from Long Island, N.Y. and has been a baseball fan his entire life. He said the event is something he'll remember throughout his career.
"It's been a fantastic experience," he said. "To actually get to come down here and represent the Air Force and throw out a first pitch is something I'll remember forever -- I'll even have the ball to prove it."
Army Staff Sgt. Jody Belzer, 289th military police company, Fort Meyer, Va.; Marine Corps First Sgt. Bobby Barnett, Henderson Hall Company first sergeant, Washington, D.C.; Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Roberto Medrano, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; Air Force Senior Airman Joseph G. Buzanowski, Detachment 16, Air Force News, Washington, D.C.; and Coast Guard Second Class Petty Officer Seth Cockram, headquarters U.S. Coast Guard, all participated in the event.
Each Department of Defense member chosen to participate in the event is a veteran of either operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom. While Coast Guard Petty Officer Cockram did not deploy in support of those operations, he did participate in relief operations for Hurricane Katrina. All participants were allowed to keep the pitched ball as a souvenir.
The Washington Nationals beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-2.