News: Wisconsin National Guard, USO help Milwaukee Brewers observe Memorial Day
Story by Vaughn Larson
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen teamed up with representatives from other uniformed services as part of the Milwaukee Brewers' pregame observation of Memorial Day at Miller Park.
Staff Sgt. Korin Saal, an Iraq War veteran with the 1158th Transportation Company in Black River Falls, Wis., sang the national anthem in front of more than 38,600 fans. Wisconsin National Guard members and some family members were part of a 40-person ceremonial first pitch as well.
Sgt. 1st Class Don Grundy of the Wisconsin National Guard, who also is the president of USO of Wisconsin, explained that the Brewers approached the USO for help in organizing the team's salute to the military.
"USO of Wisconsin has a real tight relationship with the Milwaukee Brewers," Grundy said. "We sent out an email to basically everybody in the Wisconsin National Guard asking who would be willing to sing. We wanted someone who served downrange, that's been in a little while, and Staff Sgt. Saal met all those requirements — and she's got a great voice. Jackie Moehrke, the executive director, and Ellie Hazlett put a ton of time into this — it's organized chaos, but it went well because of their efforts."
Saal said her singing dates back to a fifth-grade talent show, and she has continued to hone her skill at various karaoke competitions.
"Karaoke is a little bit harder than this, actually," Saal observed, noting that she was not competing for a prize at Miller Park. The butterflies that tormented her in the dressing room vanished when she set foot on the playing field.
"Right when I started singing I saw the words (on the scoreboard) and I thought, 'I can't look at that,'" she said. "I closed my eyes so I wouldn't mess it up — that's something you don't want to do. Once I had my eyes closed, it went fine."
The Brewers recognized the Wisconsin National Guard's Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in a photo montage before the fourth inning.
Cole and Carter Naseman, sons of the late Sgt. 1st Class Brian Naseman, were part of the 40-person first pitch, met Ryan Braun and also announced the Brewers' fourth-inning lineup during the Junior Announcer event.
"The Milwaukee Brewers were looking for something unique this year, and first thing that came to my mind was the Naseman boys, the journey that they're on and what they're dealing with," Grundy said. "I thought it would be great if we could get them down there pitching and doing Junior Announcer, and it worked out great."
Cole enjoyed the experience.
"I only got to say three names, but it's still pretty cool," he said. "(I was nervous) once I saw I was on the screen, yeah."
Their mother Peggy Naseman was thrilled for her sons.
"Oh my God, I'm beaming," she said. "I'm so happy for them."
Saal was also grateful for her role at Miller Park.
"This is such a huge honor," she admitted. "To get out there and do it was an incredible feeling."