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 March 26, 2010

Mobilization

Massachusetts engineer unit connect via remote link with Boston Celtics, Families

Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

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 McCoy.

PHOTO: 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.
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 higher headquarters.

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 the Jumbotron.

P.S. Boston won, 122-103.

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