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White Press Office Feed

Monday, January 21, 2013


Credit: White House Joyce N. Boghosian
Service Members Chosen for Inaugural Ball First Dance
Joint Task Force – National Capital Region 57th Presidential Inauguration

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2013 – The Department of Defense has chosen four of its top men and women representing their respective service branches to join the Obamas and Bidens for the traditional first dance at the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Commander-in-Chief’s Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Jan. 21.

The event will honor the brave men and women of the nation’s armed forces and their families -- a tradition started by then-President George W. Bush in 2005.

The selected service members -- representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force -- will dance with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden during the event. A service member from the U.S Coast Guard will also be represented in the official event program.

The service members include:

-- Air Force Staff Sgt. Bria D. Nelson, who will dance with President Obama. Nelson, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., enlisted on July 31, 2002, as a medical technician. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal. She is currently assigned to the 579th Medical Operations Squadron, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., as the noncommissioned officer in charge of Explorer Family Health Element.

-- Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Timothy D. Easterling, who will dance with First Lady Michelle Obama. Easterling, a native of Barnwell, S.C., enlisted on Aug. 21, 2000, as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. In 2009, Easterling helped plan and execute the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force’s participation in the Presidential Inauguration and four subsequent Presidential State of the Union addresses and Joint Sessions of Congress. He is currently assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as a distance learning instructor.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Keesha N. Dentino, who will dance with Vice President Joe Biden. Dentino, a native of Homestead, Fla., enlisted on July 6, 2004, as a military police officer. She deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal and four Army Commendation Medals. She is currently assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment, Fort Myer, Va., as a patrol explosives detection dog handler and is working on her bachelors of science degree in criminal justice.

-- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick R. Figueroa, who will dance with Dr. Jill Biden. Figueroa, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, enlisted on Dec. 16, 2008, as a hospital corpsman. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, Figueroa rescued Marine Cpl. Hoffman, who is now a Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. His awards include the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. Figueroa is currently assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a manpower transfer clerk.

The service members were chosen by a selection board made up of senior enlisted leaders from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, a task force of DOD military and civilian members brought together to support the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

The board met with and reviewed the records and accomplishments of more than 50 individuals who were submitted by senior leadership within each service. Considering factors like combat experience and volunteer efforts, the board aimed to identify individuals who would best tell the story of their services.

"These men and women represent their service in an honorable and professional way and we are excited to afford them this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of the Presidential Inauguration," said Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Julius Spain, who participated in the selection process as the senior enlisted board member representing the Marine Corps and serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the Joint Team Special Events, JTF-NCR.

The Commander-in-Chief’s Ball is for members of the U.S. military, including active duty and reserve military members, Medal of Honor recipients, and wounded warriors and their spouses, among others.

The 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Ball will have a significantly larger footprint than that of 2009, nearly doubling in size, and tickets for invited military guests will be provided free of charge by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The Pentagon Channel will be carrying live coverage of inaugural events including the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, the Kids’ Inaugural concert and the parade.