NFL gets assist from U.S. servicemembers
August 4, 2003
TOKYO — From pregame festivities to halftime cleanup, U.S. servicemembers and dependents in Japan were on hand to make the 2003 American Bowl an event to remember Saturday at the Tokyo Dome.
Most of the volunteers came from Yokota Air Base, but a Marine unit from Camp Fuji also participated.
Some volunteers came for the NFL experience, some to represent their unit or base and others for reasons closer to the heart.
“My wife asked me to volunteer,” Airman 1st Class Chris Wilson of Yokota Air Base said. “She asks. I do.”
Wilson did acknowledge that he enjoyed helping present a giant American flag prior to the start of the game and serving as a stagehand for rock band Cheap Trick.
“It’s a nice privilege,” Wilson said, adding he serves with Yokota’s 730 Air Mobility Squadron “Port Dawgs.”
Salina McBride, a dependent from Yokota, agreed.
“It’s an experience,” she said. “It’s not everyone who gets to do this.”
McBride said she volunteered to help with the flag presentation to get closer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, and their head coach Jon Gruden.
“I like the Bucs’ coach,” she said, noting she hoped to get some autographs.
But volunteering wasn’t all fun and games. Some of the work was serious.
Two Yokota 374th Medical Operations Squadron doctors — Maj. Donald Osborn and his wife, Maj. Jeanne Osborn — were on hand “just in case.”
Maj. Donald Osborn was asked to serve as the anesthesiologist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in case there was a catastrophic injury that required transporting a player to a hospital.
He’s the only anesthesiologist at Yokota.
“This is a great opportunity to represent the military,” he said. “And it’s great to be here.”
A Marine Corps honor guard was also present, and just as serious about its job.
The Camp Fuji Headquarters Battalion honor guard comprised Private 1st Class Anthony Garcia, Cpl. Edoardo Castillo, Cpl. Nicholas Sanders, Sgt. Jose Zamudio and Lance Cpl. Robert Hynes.
Honor guard members, standing proudly in dress uniforms, presented colors at midfield prior to kickoff.
Other volunteers helped with game functions, with several Yokota teens serving as ball boys and a former Yokosuka Naval Base resident serving on the chain gang.
Michael Reedy, a former civilian computer specialist at Yokosuka, flew in from Washington, D.C., just to work the chain gang.
Reedy, who now lives in the Capitol city, aspires to be an NFL official, he said.
“This is great experience being on the field,” he said.
“This is awesome,” added Yokota High School junior Cameron Woody, who also worked the sideline — not as an official, but as one of three ball boys for the New York Jets.
“I can hear them crunch and I can smell the blood,” he said. “I absolutely love football.”