The Green Bay Packers honored more than 75 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard in a pre-game ceremony Aug. 22 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Just before kickoff of the Packers pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders, the Guardsmen marched onto the hallowed turf of Lambeau to a thundering applause from fans. The deafening reception sounded similar to a Packers touchdown.
"It's pretty neat that somebody took the time to honor us and think that it would be relevant for the years and time that we give up away from our significant others," Staff Sgt. Casey Kuehn, of Rosendale, Wisconsin, said.
Kuehn, a heavy equipment transport driver with the Beloit, Wisconsin-based 1158th Transportation Company, and the remaining Soldiers had all either re-enlisted in the Guard or entered a warrant officer or officer candidate program.
"I just couldn't picture myself not being in (the National Guard)," Kaukauna, Wisconsin, resident Sgt. Ben Woodward said.
Woodward, also a driver in the 1158th, recently completed his first six-year enlistment and has plans to eventually become a flight warrant officer in an aviation unit.
"It's great that they're doing this for us, because it shows how the community supports us as much as we support them," he said. "Just being out here, you can't walk 10 feet without someone coming up to you and thanking you for your service."
Kuehn, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with 11 years of service to his credit, said he re-enlisted for the benefits and because of all of the unique experiences the National Guard offers. In addition to serving overseas, he's graduated from the Army's Airborne and Air Assault schools.
Sgt. Brittany Seeger, a military police officer with the 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, re-enlisted for similar reasons.
"All of the opportunities and being able to see the world and the different experiences and different people," she said when asked why she re-enlisted. Seeger plans to make the Army a career.
The Soldiers who re-enlisted did so at midfield in front of more than 80,000 fans as Lt. Col. Rochell Maier, the commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion, read the oath of enlistment over the Lambeau Field public address system.
"It's a big honor, because it shows how many people support you and are behind you," Seeger said of re-enlisting in front of so many people.
"That was probably the most motivating thing I've ever seen," one of the re-enlistees said as he walked off the field.
Joining those Soldiers on the field were warrant officer and officer candidates who will go on to fill leadership roles within the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
Warrant Officer Candidate Joshua Baranczyk, of Westby, Wisconsin, has been in the military for 11 years and currently serves as a small arms repairer with the 107th Maintenance Company in Viroqua, Wisconsin. He decided to become a warrant officer to enhance his career progression potential.
"I've been getting a lot of pressure from my unit to do it for a long time," he said "And after a good conversation with another warrant officer, I finally decided it was a good choice for me."
The Soldiers were treated to a good show, as the Packers went on to defeat the Raiders 31-21.