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Voices win over Seahawk crowd

McChord Air Force Base, Wash. -- SEATTLE, Wash. -- With 68,175 pairs of ears intently listening, the Voices of McChord delivered a barber shop quartet version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in front of its largest venue Nov. 12 before the Seahawks took on the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field.

The performance was part of the Seahawks 2006 Military Appreciation Game and Veteran's Day celebrations where Airmen from McChord also joined a joint service color guard and participated in the pregame ceremony.

Four active duty and Reserve vocalists represented McChord's all-volunteer choir: Tech. Sgt. Kristy Fry, 446th Mission Support Squadron; Airman 1st Class James Boswell, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; and Staff Sgt. David James and Senior Master Sgt. Steve Tuggle, both 62nd Maintenance Operation Squadron Airmen.

The decision to switch from a Tops in Blue version of the song to a more personal one was made in October when the group accepted an invitation to sing, said Sergeant Tuggle.

"We wanted something unique and different that could showcase four voices," Sergeant Tuggle said.

There were moments of trepidation early, though, as the quartet experienced feedback problems with the audio in their ears during the sound check.

"We were really nervous early because of the reverberation and how we were hearing ourselves in the ear pieces," Sergeant James said.

Despite the audio difficulties, the group remained confident.

"We just knew we needed to get it right," Sergeant Tuggle said. "We were more concerned about complimenting each other than we were about the big crowd listening."
After repeated practice sessions in a room below the stadium, the group rose to the occasion when it was time to go on. Adorned in their dress blues, they emerged from the 50-yard line entrance, walked through light rain and delivered the national anthem.

There was a focus on getting the pitch of the song correct early, Sergeant James said. Once everyone was on the right page, the quartet shined.

"I wasn't nervous a bit after the first three notes," Sergeant James said.

After the quartet finished the song, four Army OH-58 Kiowa helicopters flew over the stadium.

"When I heard the helicopters go by and all the cheering after we finished ... it was definitely an experience I will always remember," Sergeant James said.

The impact of the event was felt on the entire group, Sergeant Tuggle said.

"It was a good feeling afterwards," he added. "When the crowd started roaring, it sent shivers down my spine."