Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy D. Easterling from Barnwell, SC will have the first dance with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, during the Commander-in-Chief's Ball. (photo Navy Times)
(NAVY TIMES by Karen Jowers)--A Marine Gunnery sergeant from Barnwell will be First Lady Michelle Obama's first dance partner at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball as part of the inauguration festivities.
Other service members will dance with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden. All four are enlisted members stationed in the Washington, D.C., area.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Bria Nelson, assigned to the 579th Medical Operations Squadron at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, was chosen by a board of senior enlisted leaders to be the president's dance partner, according to Addie Whisenant, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Nelson, who was previously deployed to Afghanistan, is the non-commissioned officer in charge of Explorer Family Health Element.
The board of senior enlisted members met with more than 50 candidates and reviewed their records in determining who would dance with the president, the first lady and the Bidens at the ball, Whisenant said. "The board considered factors like combat experience and volunteer efforts and aimed to identify individuals who would best tell the story of their services."
• Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Easterling will dance with First Lady Michelle Obama. A native of Barnwell, S.C., Easterling has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is assigned to Marine Barracks as a distance learning instructor. A chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist, he helped plan and execute the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force's participation in the 2009 presidential inauguration and for four subsequent state-of-the-union addresses and joint sessions of Congress.
• Army Staff Sgt. Keesha Nicole Dentino will dance with Vice President Biden. A native of Homestead, Fla., with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, she is a patrol explosives detection dog handler assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment at Fort Myer.
• Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Figueroa, a hospital corpsman who is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, will dance with Jill Biden. While deployed to Afghanistan, he rescued a Marine corporal. Figueroa is a manpower transfer clerk assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
President Obama continues the Commander-in-Chief's Ball tradition started in 2005 by former President George W. Bush to honor members of the armed forces and their families.