Reservist helps brand Air Force Reserve at NBA Finals game
By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
/ Published July 02, 2018
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Tech Sgt. Freddie Garza got to show the world his talent when he performed the National Anthem before 16.24 million television viewers and an energized crowd at the Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4 of the NBA Finals. In the process, the Reserve Citizen Airman was able to give some great exposure to the Air Force Reserve.
“The NBA Championship game was awesome!” Garza said. “I truly believe every time I sing in uniform it’s an honor and a privilege, but the NBA game is by far the most special venue because it was the championship game.”
Garza, a security forces combat arms instructor with the 446th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, who has performed several times at Seattle Seahawks, Mariners and Sound games, can now add NBA Finals to his resume.
“To be able to perform the National Anthem in itself is a great honor. To be asked to perform it in my Air Forces blues is overwhelming,” Garza said. “I take pride knowing that I represent the Air Force Reserve when I sing at these venues.”
For AFRC, having entertainers like Garza perform at sporting events is a great way to get some publicity for the Reserve.
“Having Reservists who are entertainers like Garza is a great platform to get positive messages out to the public about what the Air Force Reserve is looking for and maybe they can one day join the team and take advantage of the opportunity to serve in the Air Force Reserve,” said Master Sgt. Jacinto Nunez, NCOIC of Advertising, AFRC Recruiting Service.
“Citizens of our great nation will get more of an understanding of what opportunities can be available while serving part time in the Air Force Reserve. Garza is a great example of how you can serve your country and also enjoy doing something you love.”
Performing at venues such as the NBA Finals is a great way for Garza to do something he loves, but he does realize he is representing the Air Force and Air Force Reserve.
“I have thought about how potentially I am branding the Air Force Reserve when I sing at these events,” Garza said. “As an active-duty member for six years and a Reservist for 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to experience both sides. Being in the Reserve has provided me a spotlight to express my God-given talent.”
Garza said he is given red-carpet treatment at games and does get to meet both fans and celebrities.
“When I’m at the games the fans treat me like I’m a celebrity. Everyone wants to come up to me and shake my hand, take a picture or do both,” he said. “I had one gentlemen tell me ‘man, I follow you on social media and I’ve seen all your performances’. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many people and hear them express their love and support for me.”
And while he does appreciate the fanfare and admiration, Garza said he does get the opportunity to talk to people interested in serving in the military.
“When I sang the National Anthem a few weeks ago at the Seattle Mariners Armed Forces Night, I spoke to this young lady who was wearing an Air Force ROTC jacket,” he recalls. “She told me she was in ROTC and wasn’t sure if she was going to continue. I told her, ‘I want you to continue and don’t give up. No matter how hard mentally or physically it’ll be on you, don’t give up. When you become an officer, I want you to find me so that I can salute you and congratulate you for all your accomplishments. Grind it out and don’t quit.’”
When performers like Garza are allowed to display their entertainment skills while wearing the uniform it can be a winning formula for him and the Air Force Reserve.
“Having performers like Tech Sgt. Garza shows the immense talent we have in the Air Force Reserve,” Nunez said. “We hope that it also inspires people to look into the opportunities available in the Reserve. It shows you can live your dream and still represent your nation in service.”