|Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
Seeing themselves in real time on the 9-foot-by-12-foot
Jumbotron at TD Banknorth Garden Arena in Boston during a Boston Celtics
basketball game March 12 was the highlight of the night for about 20
Soldiers from the 379th Engineer Company who are mobilizing at Fort
Soldiers from the 379th Engineer
Company cheer and wave at the video camera that is projecting
their action live on the Boston Celtics Jumbotron at TD
Banknorth Garden Arena for the National Basketball Association
game versus the Indiana Pacers. The 379th is a Massachusetts
Army National Guard unit, hence the link to the Celtics. The
379th staged their part of the link in the 181st Infantry
Brigade Headquarters conference room at Fort McCoy.
Company 1st Sgt. Earle Eldgridge said it was a “very good morale
booster for our Soldiers.” The 379th is a Massachusetts Army National
Guard unit, hence the connection with the Celtics.
The 379th group crowded into the center of the 181st Infantry Brigade
Headquarters conference room at Fort McCoy where the audio-video link
with Boston was made. With the assistance of Celtics’ public relations
personnel, the live feed was established and several 20-second “flashes”
of the McCoy-situated Soldiers were shown live on the Jumbotron. A lot
of cheering and some dancing was included from the McCoy end.
There were several other flashes made with a split-screen video, as half
of the Jumbotron screen had the 379th at McCoy and the other half had a
live two-way audio-video feed with a dozen Soldiers of the 101st
Engineer Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq.
The 101st, also a Massachusetts Army National Guard unit, is the 379th’s
Eldridge explained the Celtics contacted the United Service
Organizations (USO) to see if an audio-video two-way feed could be
programmed live to the Jumbotron for the Celtics’ “Seats for Soldiers
Night” game. “The USO contacted the Massachusetts Guard Public Affairs
Office who contacted us about our possible involvement.”
“It took a lot of telephone calls the next five days to set it up, but
it was a good day had by all,” Eldridge said. “We had great support from
the Celtics, the USO, Fort McCoy and 1st Lt. Edward Jarrett, signal
officer with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion, at our higher headquarters.”
The Celtics sent T-shirts and baseball caps for the Soldiers as a
memento of the special occasion. Eldridge said the Celtics also set up a
meet-and-greet audio-video two-way feed with eight 379th Soldiers at the
Fort McCoy Equal Employment Opportunity Office, coordinated through the
Fort McCoy Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. That feed allowed the
Soldiers to briefly visit with their Families in Boston.
The Celtics conducted a similar effort during the game with the Baghdad
Soldiers, having Family members at the game come to the Celtics public
relations office to greet each other live on the Jumbotron.
There were live interviews with Soldiers at the game and, at halftime, a
formal oath of re-enlistment given to about 20 Massachusetts Army
National Guard Soldiers on the basketball court, also was shown live on
P.S. Boston won, 122-103.