Drill team was the man in the middle for OKC Thunder military appreciation night

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
Waiting patiently for the tip-off, the 12-man team is preparing - lacing shoes and warming up. They get into uniform, and it is almost time to start. Before heading out they pray, chant and get amped up for their performance.

This isn't just a group of service members; it is The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard drill team, and the team "crushed" yet another performance.

The USAF Honor Guard drill team was the halftime entertainment Feb. 15 for the Oklahoma City Thunder game versus the Sacramento Kings in Oklahoma City, Okla. The game served as an opportunity for the Thunder to honor service members around the world with a military appreciation night.

"It's amazing, but it's not just an honor to do a professional sporting event, but to represent the entire Air Force at any public venue. When people see us, all they see is the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Doss, former flight chief and member of the drill team.

For Sergeant Doss, the performance wasn't just another amazing opportunity earned - it was his last memory performing with the team he now calls his brothers.

"Drill team training is one of the toughest things I've ever had to go through," said Sergeant Doss. "I feel like that is one of the reasons why the members that make it through are so close."

In many ways the drill team is like any other professional level sports team. Some members spend 12 hours a day practicing and conditioning to assure that they are truly the best at what they do.

"It's gotten to the point where I don't get nervous despite the crowd, but with this being the last one, it was a little more emotional for me," said Sergeant Doss, reflecting on his experiences in front of crowds around the world. "Knowing that I would never be in that situation again really made me want to take it all in and keep that memory in my mind and picture it just the way it was."

Sergeant Doss has been in the honor guard for five years. Eight months after working with the colors flight and the Joint Services flyaway team he was told he would become a member of the drill team, and the rest is history.

"The trip as a whole was special. I've been with the drill team for four years now and I have poured my heart and soul into this team," said Sergeant Doss. "I have held every position you can hold as an enlisted member, and for it all to culminate at a big venue with the greatest group of guys I had behind me - was perfect."

The team performed for the Thunder's sold out stadium of the 18,000 people. "Maybe the best show of the night wasn't OKC's high-flying act on the floor, but the halftime show," said the OKC Thunder's official box score.

The team travels and participates in community relations events. They also compete against the other service's drill teams in the annual Armed Services Drill Competition, which this year will be held at the Jefferson Memorial, April 9.

"It really was perfect with it being military appreciation night, and the crowd was great. They were loud and energetic," said Sergeant Doss.

After the game, as the drill team ate dinner and chatted around their tables, the roar of the team would occasionally silence the restaurant as the team saw the playbacks from their performance on the Fox Sports Network.

To check out the performance, visit: http://www.nba.com/thunder/video/2011/02/15/MilitaryHalftimemov-1559118/index.html.