by Master Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service
3/25/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA -- Like
all major American sporting events, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race doesn't
commence until the last notes of the Star Spangled Banner ring out, and
since the Air Force Reserve is sponsoring this year's race, it's only
fitting that a Citizen Airman would sing those notes.
Tech. Sgt. Heidi Venable, 477th Force Support Squadron, said she had
cold feet before and after she sung, but admitted the experience was
Despite growing up in a family in which everyone sang and played musical
instruments, she never performed the National Anthem solo before this
year. Singing in front of a large crowd at a national event with cameras
everywhere was a little nerve wracking, she said, but once it was time
to sing, she pulled herself together.
"It was kind of surreal, I just blocked out the crowd and I went kind of numb," Venable said.
And she didn't disappoint.
"Who better to sing our National Anthem than someone who raised their
hand to defend our country," said Stan Hooley, executive director of the
Iditarod Trail Committee. "Not only did Sergeant Venable do a great job
singing, but she provided the Iditarod an extra dash of patriotism that
we surely appreciate."
After the anthem, Venable's nerves gave way to a more literal type of cold feet.
"Considering the conditions, it probably would've been fine to wear my
Air Force utility uniform, but since our objective was to bring positive
attention to the Air Force Reserve, I thought it best to wear my blues,
which certainly weren't designed for trudging through the slush-covered
streets of Anchorage," she said.
In addition to performing at the Iditarod's ceremonial start, she sang
at the Musher's Banquet, one of Anchorage's major social events attended
by many well-known Alaskans. Venable said she was excited to sing in
front of a crowd that included Marty Raney, the star of an Alaska
reality TV show that she watches, and former Alaska governor and
vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
While the experience was exciting, Venable knew that she was there to
accomplish a mission. In an effort to generate greater awareness for the
career opportunities within the 477th Fighter Group, the Air Force
Reserve Command Recruiting Service partnered with the Iditarod, which is
one of Alaska's most popular sporting events.
Venable is no stranger to the recruiting mission. Her husband Master
Sgt. John Venable has served as an Air Force Reserve recruiter for more
than a decade, and when she can, she tries to support him during
recruiting events, but none have been as big as the Iditarod.
"The Iditarod provides a great opportunity to get the word out about the
Air Force Reserve to the people of Anchorage and the thousands of
visitors the race attracts." she said. "The fact that I got to sing the
National Anthem while supporting my unit and my husband's mission was
more than worth the cold feet."