Four service members representing the four U.S. Military branches were picked for the traditional first dance with the Obamas and Bidens at the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Commander-in-Chief’s Ball Monday night.
The Department of Defense chose Air Force Staff Sergeant Bria Nelson, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Timothy D. Easterling, Army Staff Sergeant Keesha Dentino, and Navy Petty Officer Patrick Figueroa because they “represent their service in an honorable and professional way,” according to Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Julius Spain.
“We are excited to afford them this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of the Presidential Inauguration," he added.
The service members were first recommended by senior leadership of each branch and then selected by a committee of senior enlisted officers. Each is paired with a specific dance partner, but they will all dance with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden as part of the event.
Distinctions among the service members include Commendation Medals from each military branch. The four represent nearly 35 years of total military experience.
The Commander-in-Chief’s Ball is one of only two officially recognized balls during Presidential Inauguration activities, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and will host nearly twice as many guests as in 2009.
The event is open exclusively to invited members of the military and their guests. The first dance tradition, designed to honor men and women in the country’s armed forces, began during George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005.