Dayton Dragons host Wright-Patt leadership, service members for American Celebration Night

  • Published
  • By Matthew Fink
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

DAYTON, Ohio – The Dayton Dragons hosted hundreds of military service members and their families for American Celebration Night at Day Air Ballpark on Aug. 26.

During a showdown with the visiting Lansing Lugnuts, the Dragons took several opportunities to highlight Wright-Patterson Air Force Base leadership, its tenant units and future service members.

“Nights like this are important to us because we get a chance to interact with the community,” said Col. Raymond Smith Jr., 445th Airlift Wing commander. “The community gets a firsthand look at what units are at Wright-Patt, what they bring to the fight and what kind of mission sets we have.”

As more than 8,000 fans walked to the stadium entrance, they were greeted by 13 static displays from Department of Defense entities on and off base. These included two Humvees from Marine Corps Reserve’s Military Police Company C, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion; a Razor off-road vehicle from the 88th Security Forces Squadron, firetruck from the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron; recruiting booths from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; and performance by the Air Force Band of Flight.  

Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, and Brig. Gen. Scott A. Cain, Air Force Research Laboratory commander, threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitches. The balls were delivered by a bomb-disposal robot from the 788 CES Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight. 

The WPAFB Honor Guard presented the colors during the national anthem, shortly before the game began. 

After the first inning, 31 Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps recruits took the oath of enlistment, administered by Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, alongside his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Morales. Fans rose to their feet and applauded as the recruits raised their right hands and swore to support and defend the Constitution.   

“It felt amazing to be there and see folks take the oath of enlistment in front of such a huge crowd,” said Morales, who took the opportunity to give the recruits mentorship and guidance for their future careers. “We are not quite where we need to be in terms of recruitment numbers, so it was great having so many. I had fun talking with the recruits and figuring out what makes them tick.” 

During the third inning, Smith was interviewed by Fox Sports 980 and Dayton’s CW and shared the missions of his wing and its 1,500 personnel. Tech. Sgt. Ainsley DeWitt from the Air Force Band of Flight provided vocals for a rendition of “God Bless America” at the end of the fifth inning. 

Although the Lugnuts ultimately took down the Dragons with a 3-2 win, Morales said he felt elated at the turnout for the game and support shown for his Airmen and the military as a whole. Nights like this are critical to maintaining the strong bond between the base and Dayton community, he added. 

“Our Airmen were happy to come out and show everybody how important their mission is,” Morales said. “To see folks from different backgrounds come together to show their support was amazing. It was a fantastic moment.”

Added Smith: “The Dayton community has been awesome to us, including tonight. By inviting us, they are saying, ‘Welcome. We want you here, we need you here, and come celebrate with us.’”