‘First Lightning’ Battalion continues ties with Kansas State men’s basketball team
MANHATTAN, Kan.—Lt. Col. John Mountford, left, commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, accepts an autographed basketball from Bruce Weber, head coach of the Kansas State University men’s basketball team. The battalion has a strong four-year-old relationship with the team, and were honored Nov. 18 at Bramlage Coliseum during the game against North Florida. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 2nd ABCT PAO)
Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
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Manhattan, Kan—In a rekindling of a four-year-old partnership, Kansas State University men's basketball program honored the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team before and during its Nov. 18 matchup with the University of North Florida.
Head coach Bruce Weber presented Lt. Col. John Mountford, commander of 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., with a basketball which had been autographed by all team's players and coaches, Soldiers from the battalion served as a color guard for the national anthem, and the children of Soldiers got to participate in some fun halftime activities on the court.
"It's a tremendous honor," Mountford said. "It's great for the battalion and for Kansas State as well."
Weber replaced former head coach Frank Martin, who had developed a strong relationship with the Soldiers of the battalion and had often visited Fort Riley and spoken with Soldiers, this past offseason. Likewise, Mountford took command of the battalion this past June.
"Their coach is new, I'm new, but I'm eager to keep this relationship going," Mountford said. "I think the highlight for the year is our being honored at this game."
Fans of the Wildcats might have noticed the small red-and-gold patch displayed on the upper left shoulder of their uniforms. It's the 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt.'s battalion crest.
"That's incredible," Mountford said. "They're the only NCAA team to wear a regimental crest on their uniforms. It's special to see it there, on their posters, and when they wear it in the NCAA tournament. It means a lot and shows how serious the partnership is."
Prior to tip-off, five Soldiers served as a color guard during the playing of the national anthem—Staff Sgt. Dale Larrabee, Sgt. Jon Young, Spc. Kevin England, Pfc. Jeremy Bullock and Pvt. Matthew Nix.
At halftime, several other Soldiers participated in a knockout-type game of musical chairs, where they had to make a layup before being permitted to sit in an ever-diminishing number of chairs at center court.
In addition, dozens of young children got to test their speed and vision by dumping their shoes in a basket and having to race across the court, find their particular shoes amongst the crowd, put them on, and race back.
"It was really cute," Spc. Maudissa Pollard, who took her four children to the game, said of the race. "They all like basketball and this was a good way to get them out and see it."
For single Soldiers, it was a good chance to break out of a weekend routine and see something new.
"It's something different I've never done, going to a Division I basketball game and seeing the team play," said Spc. Shannon Artmann. "It's good that it gets us out of the barracks and into the community and see what's going on."
More partnership events are on the horizon, Mountford said, including a 'day-in-the-life' experience, where the student-athletes can see what goes in to a typical day for a Soldier in the 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt.