Written by Capt. Jennifer Cruz
40th Public Affairs Detachment
Nashville, TN – The leadership of 101st Airborne Division Artillery Brigade along with the 101st Airborne Division Band, took part in the Nashville Predators’ Military Salute Week at Bridgestone Arena.
During the Predators’ March 6th game against the Dallas Stars, the Big 5 Band played during the first and second intermission. Positioned just above the Zamboni tunnel, they performed classic rock covers for the more than 17,000 fans who filled the arena.
“Before a big performance like this I always get very excited. It’s fantastic that this large of an audience will be hearing Army music tonight,” said Pfc. Shawn McGovern, an Army musician with the 101st Airborne Division Band.
The Predators took on the Anaheim Ducks March 8th and provided more recognition for the 101st Airborne Division.
The command team from the 101st DIVARTY, along with veterans, business leaders and Gary Bettman, the Commissioner of the National Hockey League, were invited to a pre-game reception.
Colonel Frank Stanco Jr., DIVARTY commander, presented a 101st coin to Bettman, who in return gave Stanco one of his commissioner of the NHL coins.
Following the pre-game reception, the 101st Honor Guard presented the colors just prior to the singing of National Anthem.
During the intermissions of this game the fans were entertained by the 101st Airborne Division Brass Band.
“It’s incredibly energizing, the fans are on their feet a lot, their cheering a lot, and then the excitement they show for their team, they even show for us,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Hann, a 101st Abn. Div. Band musician.
Also during the second period, the Predators recognized service members of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
For the Army, 1st Sgt. Jeffery Dudzienski, the 101st Airborne Division Band first sergeant, was shown on the Jumbotron as his bio was announced to the fans.
“It was an honor to be selected, to represent our division and the U.S. Army for Thursday’s game,” said Dudzienski. “The Predators support the Depart of Defense like no other professional sports organization.”
The 101st Airborne Division Brass Band also performed during the intermissions of the Saturday game between the New Jersey Devils and the Predators.
During the third period, as part of a giveaway, the Predators showed three fans on the Jumbotron. The fan with the loudest cheers, from those in attendance, received a free pizza. Unexpectedly the third fan was Spc. Jihye Shim, who plays trombone in the brass band. The loud and thunderous cheers she received clearly surpassed the other two fans, and she easily won the pizza.
The band members and DIVARTY command team not only received recognition by the Predators but also from their fans. As they walked the arena, fans would stop to thank them for their service and even offered to pay for their food and drinks.
“There was tons of appreciation from the fans we sat next to during the game, while we were at the concessions, and entering in and leaving the stadium,”” Hann said. “Their energy adds to our energy on the stage. They’re not just clapping for us, they’re clapping for all the military.”