Philadelphia Eagles’ draft picks announced at DAFB

DOVER — Lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan MSgt. Betsy Bonilla never thought she’d find herself announcing her team’s draft picks to the county — much less from a stage in Dover Air Force Base (DAFB) in the shadow of the imposing C-17 Globemaster III known as the Spirit of the Constitution.

But on Saturday, she did just that.

“It’s amazing, what an honor,” she said. “It’s great to be here representing the United States Air Force and our airmen.

“It’s also a great feeling to have football teams that support us and what we do, it means a lot that they’d take time out of their busy schedule to come hang out with us. We’re really thankful.”

To the crowd of nearly 200 service members and their families, MSgt. Bonilla announced the drafting of Penn State defensive end and Philadelphia native Shareef Miller to the team — the No. 138 overall pick.

As part of an National Football League (NFL) incentive to drive more engagement on the third day of draft picks, teams have been encouraged to announce their selections in a public setting within their “market,” explained Eagles marketing coordinator Amanda Marquez.

Their appearance on Saturday at DAFB marks the first time they’ve held such an event outside Philadelphia.

“Last year we did it at Independence Hal. The year before that was at our stadium. But we try to find something different every year,” said Ms. Marquez. “This worked out great because it was a chance to come down and engage with our local service men and women, bring them some cool Eagles swag and just put on a fun day for everyone.”

The United Service Organizations (USO) donated food for the event and yard games were set up in a DAFB hangar for spectators. Base personnel also had a chance to meet with Eagles staff and the team’s cheerleaders.

Helping to mastermind the event, Honorary Commander Steve Masterson said he’s actually been trying since last year to orchestrate it.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are partners with my company Waste Masters and we tried for this last year, but they traded their pick away and we weren’t able to make it happen,” he said.

“But this year, it worked perfectly. It’s really something to be able to bring the two Eagles together like this for a special moment. It’s really important to me and I think it means a lot to soldiers here and everywhere to do things like this.”

MSgt. Betsy Bonilla, center, cheers with other airman after she announces at Dover Air Force Base on Saturday that Shareef
Miller from Penn State is the Philadelphia Eagles 138th NFL draft pick.

DAFB is home to the 436th Airlift Wing of the Air Mobility Command, known as the “Eagle Wing.”

According to DAFB, the Honorary Commander Program partners the commanders at the base with some of Delaware’s “distinguished community and political leaders” to encourage an exchange of ideas and strengthening community relationships.

SSgt Brian Hampton, who had the opportunity to announce the drafting of quarterback and 167th overall pick Clayton Thorson, was deployed at Al Dhafra Air Base in UAE when his flight chief told him about the opportunity to be a part of the event.

“He put me in for the selection and I found out just a week ago that I’d be able to do it,” said SSgt. Hampton. “I’ve been an Eagles fan for 30 years so it means a lot to me. I’ve been to training camps, games and we’ve traveled to see them too. Me and my father have gone to Kansas City when the play the Chiefs to see the game. I’ve been watching the Eagles forever.”

When asked about the team’s picks so far, SSgt. Hampton said he was excited about the new talent and was looking forward to the season.

“There’s been some good picks so far,” he said. “They definitely needed a tackle to replace Jason Peters, who’s probably on his last year or two. Miles Sanders from Penn State was a good pick too. They needed a running back because (Jay) Ajayi probably isn’t going to be back next year.”

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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