Expect to see a lot of U.S. Air Force uniforms at the NCAA First Four games in Dayton.

That’s because Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is again playing a key, and highly visible role, in the games at the University of Dayton and their related events.

The First Four Local Organizing Committee works closely with Wright-Patt to make sure the Air Force is represented at each of The Big Hoopla community events — from volunteers to base officials giving the keynote address at the Hoopla STEM challenge to attendance from key leadership — because the base is so ingrained in the region. Additionally, large blocks of airmen attend the games through the Hoopla Ticket Program.

Col. John Devillier — commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, the host wing at Wright-Patt — talks about the First Four’s impact on the military.

Q: What kind of energy is building up at Wright-Patt as the First Four approaches?

A: We are very excited about being part of the NCAA First Four. It’s almost a national pastime now, March Madness, and the fact that airmen station at Wright-Patterson actually get to see these games is an incredible opportunity.

Q: Will there be a lot of interaction between the base and community during the games as there has been in past years?

A: We’re going to have airmen unfurling the flag on the court (at UD), the Air Force Band of Flight will be there to perform the National Anthem. It really gives our airmen an opportunity to interact with the community. We’re involved in the Wizards of Wright, subject-matter experts that work at the base will do some demonstration during the Hoopla STEM Challenge. And of course, recruiting services will be there as well doing some demonstrations. They have a mini F-16.

Q: Why is it so important for Wright-Patt to have strong ties to the community and how does the First Four boost that effort?

A: We believe that Wright-Patterson is the community and the community is Wright-Patterson. Many of our young airmen are away from home for the first time, away from their families. The way the Miami Valley embraces them really makes them feel at home here and makes them feel appreciated. We’re extremely excited and so appreciative of the fact that the community wants to involve us in these types of events. It really makes the airmen here feel special…



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