I had a pretty exciting day Sunday as I had the privilege of traveling to London, England, with the Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe Analytic Center Joint Honor Guard. The Honor Guard was invited to the NFL game to present the colors and I couldn’t wait to experience this with them!
On top of that, the British Joint Color Guard was teaming up with the JAC Honor Guard and they had not met prior to today.
Once both teams arrived, we met with NFL coordinators to get our instructions for the day. We were given a nice room in the underground of the stadium and told to be ready to practice on the field at 12:30 p.m.
We had no idea who would be singing the Star Spangled Banner and imagine our surprise when pop superstar Toni Braxton came walking onto the field. She was very friendly and posed for photos with the team. We also met Welsh singing sensation Katherine Jenkins who sang the British National Anthem.
After practice, we all got a quick bite to eat. It was great learning about each other’s customs and even sharing deployment stories as several members of both teams had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then it was time for the teams to go on! After they were in their uniforms, they helped each other straighten medals, shine shoes, buckle belts and don hats. You could just see the pride on every one of their faces as they stood there representing their own service.
Just before game time, the teams moved through the underground tunnel of Wembley Stadium to get ready to go out on the field.
The NFL coordinator came to let us know it was time to go. Both groups assumed their positions as determined during practice and waited for the queue.
It was a moving time as the colors of both nations were presented flawlessly by the group who had just met hours before.
Before going to their seats the two teams shook hands, exchanged e-mail addresses and Facebook names and laid the foundation for lasting friendships.
The excitement continued after the game, as the team got autographs, game footballs, wrist bands and gloves from the players.
The evening ended with a tired, but very happy team who had represented U.S. European Command and our great nation with pride, made friends for life with their British counterparts and created memories they will never forget.
Public Affairs Officer
Royal Air Force Molesworth, UK