Mariners honor McChord Airmen

SEATTLE -- Five McChord Airmen stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Seattle Mariners players Willie Bloomquist, Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt as part of the Salute to Armed Forces festivities Tuesday night at Safeco Field where the Mariners took on the Oakland Athletics. 

After marching out of the tunnel to the sound of their names being announced over the public address speakers, servicemembers lined the first and third base lines as part of the festivities. 

Airman 1st Class Stephen Cook, 62nd Medical Operations Squadron; Senior Airman Christopher Dungca, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron; Airman 1st Class William Morgan, 4th Airlift Squadron; Senior Airman Eric Martin, 62nd Maintenance Squadron and Senior Airman May Scimone, 62nd Airlift Wing, represented McChord as military members from each of the services participated in a lavish pre-game ceremony. 

In addition, Airman 1st Class William Smith, 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, represented McChord as a member of the multi-service honor guard. 

Before the national anthem was performed, Mariners and Athletics players ventured out of their respective dugouts and filled in between each servicemember in line. 

Airman Scimone said she was nervous before heading out to stand in front of the big crowd. 

"I'm going to be nervous and it's going to be a bit overwhelming, but I have a great sense of pride in representing the Air Force and McChord," she said. 

Airman Morgan, a loadmaster with the 4th AS who just returned home March 5 from a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, got a chance to represent McChord and the Air Force on the field before leaving for airdrop school this weekend. 

"I was given the opportunity to do this three days ago, and I said 'Definitely,''' he said. "I'm really humbled that I have the chance to be out there. I'm really proud of the 4th AS and happy to represent them." 

A chance to stand on the field in Air Force blues and be appreciated by thousands of fans is one of the biggest perks of being an Airman, said Airman Dungca. 

"I'm not even playing, and I'm so excited," he said before making the trek down the tunnel and out onto the field. 

The crowd's gesture left a lasting impression on Airman Morgan, he said. 

"It was great. I had an amazing time out there," he said after retreating into the tunnel. "The crowd was just alive and really loud and it was just a blast. After the anthem, the players just said it was a real honor to have us out there." 

Mr. Bloomquist, who stood next to Airman Morgan throughout the anthem, shook his hand after the song. 

"That was the [best] part, it was amazing," Airman Morgan said. "There are not many players on the team I actually know, but I know him and it was just great having him there."