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A (Star Spangled) Banner day
NCSS teacher presents flag before Falcons game
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Charles Reynolds is trained to pull people out of buildings in emergency situations.

Sunday it would have taken much more than his own National Guard unit to get him out of the Georgia Dome, where he was part of the pre-game festivities for the Falcons NFC divisional playoff matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

Reynolds, aside from being a teacher at Veterans Memorial Middle School, is also a member of the U.S. National Guard with the 877 Engineer Company. The specialist is based out of Augusta when he's on duty, but this weekend was needed for an assignment closer to home.

On Jan. 8, his sergeant called and asked if he would be available for a special assignment. Faster than it would have taken him to salute the flag, he said yes.

The assignment was to present an American flag the size of the entire football field to the more than 70,000 people in attendance for the NFL playoff game during the national anthem after the players ran out on the field.

Reynolds and dozens of other national guardsmen practiced unfolding the flag twice around 9 a.m. before the actual event shortly before 1 p.m.

As the pregame festivities were underway, the National Guardsman came out on the field with Reynolds and his companions set up on the Seahawks' side. They then waited as fireworks erupted and the players were introduced to a roaring capacity crowd.

"We came out across the Seahawks' sideline walked by coach Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson was right there warming up throwing passes on the field and the Falcons were doing introductions with guys running out of the tunnel like Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White with fire and smoke."

"That was pretty intense."

After that, the guardsmen lined both sides of the 100-yard field and spread out the stars and stripes while The Tenors sang, "The Star Spangled Banner," where Reynolds felt a moment that would surpass the intensity of the lineup announcements and all the other moments of a very momentous game.

The National Guardsmen were warned prior to the national anthem that when the line "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," is sung and the presenters wave the flag to go along with it, the Georgia Dome would erupt.

That warning held true, and Reynolds said so did the feeling that he was told would overcome him.
"It gives you goose bumps because you're seeing the flag wave yourself and that alone would give you goose bumps," Reynolds said. "That goes along with the pride of being an American and a soldier and being able to serve the country."

Reynolds then got to watch the rest of the game from his complementary seats as the team he has always been a fan of pulled off one of its biggest wins to date.

"I was going to watch that game no matter if I was there or sitting on the couch," Reynolds said. "But when I got a phone call from one of the sergeants and he asked if I would be interested in doing it, of course that was an easy yes."

The trip earned him a story to share with his students at Veterans Memorial where he is in his first year after teaching in another district for five years, which came after his first tenure in the Newton County system, which was a two-year stint.

Reynolds has been a National Guard member since 2009 specializing in search and rescue in confined spaces such as buildings and collapsed bridges.

His unit is responsible for going in and removing debris, crawling through close spaces and searching for individual in case of attacks on buildings or other populated structures. With the 887 Engineering Company has been on standby during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and on training exercises in Germany but was with the rear guard during the units deployment close to the time he first joined.

When the Falcons host the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship Sunday, Reynolds and his unit will be on drill in Augusta but will still monitor the game at every given moment.