Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander, points to one side of Williams-Brice Stadium as he leads the traditional Gamecocks cheer during the Nov. 6 Salute to Service football game. (Alexandra Shea)
By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs
Fort Jackson assisted the University of South Carolina in honored Soldiers and veterans for their service to the nation during the annual Salute to Military Service game Nov. 6 at the Williams-Brice Stadium.
More than 300 Soldiers participated in pregame and halftime shows as hundreds in the stands chanted, “U.S.A.”
During pregame activities, Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general delivered the Oath of Enlistment and Reenlistment to 10 active-duty Soldiers who reenlisted and another 10 enlistees who took the oath for the first time.
“It was really special to see the Columbia community come here and honor not only our Soldiers but the nation,” Michaelis said.
Michaelis was also given the opportunity to help hype the Gamecock crowd before the player took the field in a flurry of fireworks and flags by leading the stadium in a round of traditional Gamecock cheer. One side yelled “Game” and the other “Cocks” as loud as they could.
The Gamecocks went head to head with southern rivals the University of Florida Gators. The UofSC finished the second quarter with a score of 20-10. As the teams left the field for a break, Fort Jackson’s Soldiers and trainees joined forces with service members from the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard to perform with the Carolina Band, Coquettes, and Gamecock Cheer.
Each U.S. state and territorial flags carried by trainees and teams of 25 carried out giant flags that were unfurled at the start of the national anthem.
“It was definitely a once in a lifetime deal,” said Pfc. Hunter Hawkins, a trainee assigned to Company C, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. “We were super excited to be here.”
A team of seven, led by a drill sergeant, provided a 21 rifle salute as the wind picked up and carried the sound throughout the stadium. Each flag fluttered in unison creating a stunning flag presentation.
“It was a prideful thing to hold the flag in front of everybody,” said Spc. Linda Fass, Company C, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. “The wind was giving the flag a nice wave even though my battle buddies and I struggled.”
For the trainees who participated in the halftime show, participating in the game was an unexpected break in training and an opportunity to celebrate with newly made friends just days before they graduate.
“It was a nice incentive for our 10 weeks of hard work,” Fass said.
The game was also an unusual break for the 4-39 drill sergeants as well. Each drill sergeant was invited to bring their spouse or a Family member with them to enjoy the game and honor their loved ones' service.
“We honored veterans both past and present during the show,” said Staff Sgt. Ernest Capitolo, senior drill sergeant assigned to Company D, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. “We work all the time so this is a good break and morale builder.”
An avid college football fan, Capitolo enjoyed the game with his wife after the halftime show was completed. They joined the trainees in the stands waving white towels as they cheered on the Gamecocks.
The game came to an end with a final score of 40-17. The trainees marched out of the stands and into buses to return to the post for the evening.
As they marched out, game attendees stopped the trainees along their way out to shake hands and thank them for their service to the nation.
“I was proud and honored tonight,” said Pvt. Phillip Constable, Company C, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. “This reminded me a little of home. I wasn’t much of a football fan before but I am tonight.”