By Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — When you think about walking out of the tunnel onto a football field, you think of walking into the bright sunlight, hearing a roaring crowd and a stadium full of thousands of screaming fans in bright football jerseys and painted faces. But it wasn’t a normal day Aug. 2 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
The seats were folded up and the stadium was empty. It was quiet and the sun was just peeking over the stadium. Slowly scrolling on the jumbo-trons were service members from Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson. Instead of football players coming out of that tunnel, it was those service members whose photos were scrolling on the screens. It was their day to be recognized for their service.
Eight Peterson Airmen participated in the Denver Broncos Combine where they competed in the same events NFL hopefuls did for the NFL Draft earlier this year. The participants were: Staff Sgt. Albert Stoner, 76th Space Control Squadron; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Sell, 4th SPCS; Staff Sgt. Luis Hernandez, 21st Space Wing Plans and Programs; Senior Airman Jesse Day, 21st Communications Squadron; Senior Airman Joshua Kennedy, 21st Medical Operations Squadron; Senior Airman Janee Tamayo, 21st Dental Squadron; Airman 1st Class Aaron Yoe, 21st Force Support Squadron; and Airman 1st Class Dalton Triolo, 21st FSS.
Each participant had to go through a selection process that included submitting their fitness reports and a photo. The lucky ones were able to proudly represent their squadrons, the wing and Peterson.
When asked what made them want to participate in the event, most said the experience and the opportunity to meet professional athletes.
“It’s a good experience and we get to meet professional athletes. Not everybody gets to do that,” Yoe said.
Triolo said he has season tickets because he’s such a huge Broncos fan, so for him participating in the Combine was exciting.
“It’s fun to get out there and hang out with different people from different parts of the state, or wherever they come from, meet new people and have the experience of what the NFL players go through,” Triolo said.
He’s not the only one who had fun. Yoe said his favorite part of the whole day was running the 40-yard dash because of how competitive it was. After the competition was over, he said they continued to race each other and enjoy the camaraderie.
Triolo was all about the experience of being on the field.
“Just the experience of being on the field with everybody else and seeing everyone smile,” Triolo said. “It just makes for a good day.”
After gushing about the fun they had, each Airman from Peterson paused and was humbled to be there. Hernandez said it felt good to be recognized for everything the military does, as well as winning the best time for the 40-yard dash.
“It makes me grateful, to be honest,” Hernandez said. “You go to certain parts of town and they don’t really appreciate the military, they don’t fully understand what the military is about, but to be appreciated and to understand the true meaning behind the military and why we serve for unselfish reasons is pretty awesome. It’s pretty awesome to have that acknowledged, not just for me, but I’m sure for everyone else here.”