Air Force reservists take the oath at Hard Rock

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A group of "citizen soldiers" took their enlistment oath in the shadow of a giant guitar on Wednesday.

The enlistment ceremony for eight new Air Force reservists was held in front of the Hard Rock Casino Resort. That very public location, helps emphasize the fact that Air Force reservists are "your next door neighbor."

Dressed in black tee shirts, very Hard Rock appropriate, they stood near the giant guitar.

"It's important that we have this event here, because we are citizen airmen and we are part of the community. And that way, the community can celebrate with us," 403rd Wing Commander James Muscatell said.

Hard Rock boss Duncan McKenzie is the honorary wing commander for the 403rd.

"We are just so happy that we've got the military base here," the casino executive said. "And this is just one way we can participate with you all, and make sure we are one community."

"I still get teary eyed when I see the flag," Commander Muscatell said. "And I'm sure if I cut your wrist, you'd bleed red, white and blue. And it's that patriotism that makes America what it is today."

As family and friends looked on, the new enlistees made it official by taking the oath.

These citizen airmen come from a variety of backgrounds. Deanna Attaway spent 11 and a half years in the military before taking a job with the USO.

"I'm the director for the gulf coast region. But at the same time, I never could get rid of my military roots," she explained. "So, I decided I wanted to get back in that uniform and I decided to enlist."

Sean Whalen is a banker from Metarie who just made the reserve age requirement.

"I'm 35 tomorrow, so it was a long decision to make for me.," he said. "I've got a wife and two kids at home.  I decided, this is the last opportunity, I'm going to do it."

The new enlistees will pursue a variety of career fields in the reserve. In years to come, all will no doubt remember enlisting beneath a giant red guitar.

This isn't the first time the 403rd wing has held an enlistment ceremony in a very public place.  One past ceremony took place at the top of a bridge. Public places are designed to raise public awareness about these citizen airmen.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.