WWE holds national anthem singing contest at Holt Stadium

Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The United States’ national anthem, “The Star- Spangled Banner,” is a staple of American history and symbol of national pride.

Twenty-eight service members competed for the honor to sing the national anthem before a panel of World Wrestling Entertainment judges Dec. 3 at Holt Stadium at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, before the next day’s wrestling match for the troop’s entertainment.

The competition allowed service members like Sgt. Jamaal L. Wesley, a cargo specialist with the 159th Seaport Operations Company out of Fort Story, Va., with the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), to showcase their singing talent for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation event, scheduled for national broadcast Dec. 19.

Wesley, a Clinton, N.C., native, who said his favorite childhood wrestling superstar was Junk Yard Dog, was part of a group that won the competition and sang the national anthem before the WWE event began.

He said he recruited Sgt. Denise S. Spencer, a cargo specialist with the 159th SOC and a Pago Pago, American Samoa, native, to sing with him, and later added Spc. Quinton L. Coleman, a cargo specialist with the 159th SOC and a Memphis, Tenn., native, to form the winning trio.

This was the group’s second performance, he said. The first event was the Army vs. Air Force memorial basketball game for Spc. Michael Cote Jr., said Wesley.

Coleman said the trio has great camaraderie, keeping egos from becoming an issue.

“It is a privilege to sing with them,” he said.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dennis A. White, an assistant logistics officer with Task Force 38 out of Shelbyville, Ind., and a Mooresville, Ind., native, said he and Sgt. Marcus D. Lindsey also competed and placed fifth in the event.

“It was good to see the Army take it to victory,” he said. “We were upset because we wanted to win it, but we can live with an Army victory.”

White said John Cena is his favorite superstar and he hoped, because he did not win the competition, he would be able to work out with him.

Airmen 1st Class Roz L. Roueche, a traffic management apprentice with the 322nd Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron and a Brady, Texas, native, said she was excited the WWE gave service members a chance to sing the national anthem before the show.

“It was a great way for all of us to get our 15 minutes of fame,” she said. “I really think the trio that won was exceptional. They really gave me chills.”

Roueche, whose favorite WWE superstar is Chris Jericho, said some nervous performers wanted to back out but went through with it. When she walked down the ramp, grabbed the microphone and got into the ring, she was excited.

“(The judges) started to ask me questions (and my) nerves almost got the best of me,” she said.

She started shaking and wanted to get out of the ring, but remembered to take a deep breath and focus on the song, she said.

“I recall just being happy to be off the stage,” said Roueche. “Knowing that I got the chance to do something like this while I was deployed makes me feel very honored.”

 

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Spc. Quinton L. Coleman, a cargo specialist with the 159th Seaport Operations Company out of Fort Story, Va., with the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Memphis, Tenn., native, Sgt. Denise S. Spencer, a cargo specialist with the 159th SOC and a Pago Pago, American Samoa, native, and Sgt. Jamaal L. Wesley, a cargo specialist with the 159th SOC and a Clinton, N.C., native, sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in front of a panel of World Wrestling Entertainment judges Dec. 3 at Holt Stadium at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The trio won the competition and sang the national anthem before the WWE event held Dec. 4 at JBB.

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Spc. Quinton L. Coleman, a cargo specialist with the 159th Seaport Operations Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), is interviewed by World Wrestling Entertainment staff after singing the national anthem and winning a contest Dec. 3 at Holt Stadium to open for a WWE match at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Coleman, a Memphis, Tenn., native, sang with two partners at the WWE event Dec. 4.
(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Ryan Twist)