MANHATTAN, Kan. - Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, had not only the great opportunity of attending the Kansas State University Wildcat football game Oct. 1, 2011, but taking part in the pre-game and halftime shows as well.
Kansas State hosted a Fort Riley Military Appreciation Day at the game against the Baylor Bears. Soldiers were invited to attend a tailgating party then given tickets to attend the close game in which the Wildcats were victorious.
At a tailgate party, hosted by KSU and the 1ID, soldiers were served hot dogs, barbecue pork sandwiches, chips and sodas. As the soldiers ate, the band played catchy tunes entertaining the soldiers and families on hand. Between the songs door prizes were handed out from local restaurants and vendors.
“Today is about being part of a combination of a winning team and that winning team is the 1st Infantry Division and the Kansas State University Wildcats. We’re here to cheer them the Wildcats on to victory. The support that we receive from this them and this community is phenomenal; I would like to thank everyone for supporting the soldiers and the families,” Col. Joseph Wawro, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander said at the tailgate party prior to the start of the game.
Although many soldiers and families were on hand to merely attend and enjoy the game, many were there to take part in the festivities on the field. Prior to kick off, the 1st Infantry Division Color Guard, along with the 4th IBCT Dragon Brigade, Color Guard and other color guards of Fort Riley took the field, along with the 1st Infantry Division Band, Kansas State cheerleaders and the Kansas State Marching Band. As the Color Guards saluted the flag, the 1ID band played the national anthem side by side with the Kansas State band.
Another pre-game festivity was the promotion of Wildcat Willie, the Wildcat’s mascot, to sergeant. Willie stood at the position of attention, dawned in the Army Combat Uniform complete with boots and the furry wildcat head. Col. Peter Shull, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment Black Lions, 4IBCT, and his senior enlisted adviser Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin Kinder conducted the promotion ceremony.
As the game neared its start Cpl Rachael Hammond the Fort Riley Soldier of the Year had the honor of conducting the coin toss prior to the game. The captains of both teams met Hammond at the center of the field at which time Hammond tossed the coin into the air determining who would kick off for the start of the game.
As Old Thunder, the 1st Infantry Division’s cannon from the Revolutionary War manned by soldiers of 1-28 Inf. Reg., let out a thunderous roar, the Wildcat football team led by Wildcat Willie in his ACU uniform ran onto the field as the crowd went wild.
Due to the strong bond that has formed between Kansas State athletic programs and many other departments and different Units of the Dragon Brigade and the 1ID, the partnership was showcased during the second quarter with a ceremony commemorating the bond that has formed. Shull and Kinder took the field with a representative from their partnership, the football team, along with many other soldiers and representatives from their respective organizations.
As the second quarter wrapped up, soldiers of the Black Lions, 1ID Band, KSU Marching Band, and cheerleaders prepared to take the field. As the Army Song played, a highly orchestrated spectacle began to take place as the performers moved in intricate formations across the field. On cue, the Black Lion soldiers of A Company maneuvered themselves onto the field spreading the 20’ by 30’ Garrison Flag across the field.
Following the halftime show the game continued, As the soldiers and fans watched on. In the final seconds of the fourth quarter the Wildcats, who were down, punched in a touchdown, taking the lead of 36 to 35, upsetting the Baylor Bears, bringing the fantastic Fort Riley Military Appreciation day to an end with a win.
“This partnership is a great thing, everything the soldiers do is for us, but I think we should do more to build this relationship between KSU and the soldiers of Fort Riley,” Gavin Maloney, a freshmen at KSU said.