Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hold a large garrison-size American flag during the presentation of the colors and singing of the national anthem at the NCAA First Four Tournament March 19 at the University of Dayton Arena. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michelle Gigante)

Wright-Patt joins in NCAA First Four tournament activities

The NCAA First Four Division I men’s basketball tournament at the University of Dayton Arena March 19-20 marked the 19th consecutive year the road to the final four has started in Dayton, Ohio.

The Big Hoopla ticket program donated approximately 3,000 tickets to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Airmen and their families to recognize and show appreciation for the U.S. Air Force.

First Four events throughout the week started March 17 with the Big Hoopla Four Miler in downtown Dayton followed by the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. More than 450 runners participated in the Four Miler and more than 800 children were on hand at the STEM Challenge. The free STEM event highlighted science, technology, engineering and math designed to engage students.

Maj. Gen. Carl Schaefer, Air Force Materiel Command deputy commander, was the guest speaker at the STEM event and reminded the students from the Miami Valley about the importance of science, technology, engineering and math.

Wright-Patterson Educational Outreach members showcased Wizards of Wright (WOW!), LEGACY, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League Jr. and STARBASE Wright-Patt programs during the STEM Challenge.

Teams participating in the First Four tournament began arriving the afternoon of March 18, and fans were ready both nights to cheer them on.

Thirty Airmen across Wright-Patterson unfurled a giant American flag March 19 while the Wright-Patterson Honor Guard presented the colors and Airman 1st Class Melan Smartt sang the national anthem.

During half time of the first game March 19, Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, presided over a swearing-in ceremony for recruits under the Delayed Enlistment Program.

The second game day started just like the first with the singing of the national anthem, presentation of the colors and displaying of the large U.S. flag.

Schaefer joined Big Hoopla committee members on center court as the Hoopla STEM Challenge winner was announced.