Sailor Represents U.S. Navy at NFL Pro Bowl

US Navy | Feb. 9, 2022

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jordan Crouch, U.S. Ceremonial Guard

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING: Seaman Haley Tanner, a native of Gainesville, Florida, represented the Navy as part of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard during the presentation of the National Colors at the NFL Pro Bowl in Las Vegas Feb. 6.

Tanner is a member of the Color Guard Platoon for the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard and represents the naval service in presidential, naval, military, and public ceremonies around the country.

“I was extremely honored and excited to represent the Navy in the Pro Bowl this year,” said Tanner. “Football is my favorite sport and something I look forward to every fall, and to get the opportunity to go and watch the best in the league compete against each other is amazing.”

Tanner arrived in Las Vegas two days before the Pro Bowl to practice with the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard representatives before the game. During that time she was able to take a tour of the Las Vegas strip and enjoy the scenic mountain views.

“It was beautiful,” said Tanner. “I have never been out west, so seeing the mountains was my favorite part of the trip besides the actual Pro Bowl. The mountains were gorgeous.”

On game day the stadium had transformed into something completely different from what they were rehearsing in the day before. The crowd had added an energy that brought the whole stadium to life.

“I was nervous, I’m not gonna lie,” said Tanner, recalling her feelings while standing in the tunnel before she went onto the field.

But when the moment finally happened, her resolve kicked in.

“As soon as we started going, all my nerves went away,” said Tanner.

Tanner reminded herself that she knew what she was doing and that it was something she had done many times before.

Once her moment was over she was able to enjoy the game in a section right by the NFC endzone with the rest of the members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard.

“The Pro Bowl itself was so cool,” said Tanner. “It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.”

Tanner spent her life growing up watching football with her mom and enjoying the high energy, screaming, and excitement during each game.

However, Tanner’s life was uprooted in 2020 after her father lost his job due to COVID-19, which forced the family to move to Chesapeake, Virginia.

“I felt torn and trapped,” said Tanner. “I wanted to stay in Gainesville, where I built my life, but I took this as a sign that I needed to do my own thing.”

She decided to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Her grandfather, Marshall Tanner, joined the Navy in 1960 as a Seaman Recruit and spent the next 20 years of his career becoming a master chief, then a warrant officer, and finally retiring as a lieutenant in 1980.

“I love him very much,” said Tanner. “He’s very sweet and always looked out for my sisters and me. He was my inspiration to join the Navy.”

Tanner went to a Navy recruiter one day, took the Oath of Enlistment three days later, then moved to Virginia with her family the next day.

While attending basic training, she was selected to join the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard (USNCG) after meeting physical requirements and passing a rigorous interview process. She now represents the naval service in presidential, naval, military, and public ceremonies in the D.C. metro area.

“Seaman Tanner truly represents the great history and heritage of our Navy. She embodies the Navy’s core values and represents all of our Sailors,” said Cmdr. Dave Tickle, commanding officer of USNCG. “She has what it takes to become an incredible leader and influence people around her to do their best.”

For the next year, she would work to become an outstanding member of the color guard that would earn her a spot on the field during the Pro Bowl.

“Being in the Ceremonial Guard is an experience like no other,” said Tanner. “Being trained at such a high level of precision and excellence to perform high profile ceremonies like the Presidential Inauguration, the arrival of foreign ambassador at the Pentagon and White House, change of command ceremonies for the Chief of Naval Operations, and most importantly, funerals for our fallen shipmates in Arlington National Cemetery has been a remarkable experience. It is something that I will always carry with me. I am very proud to have been selected to be a part of the Ceremonial Guard and the lessons that I have learned from being here.”

Established in 1931, the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official ceremonial unit of the Navy. Located at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, DC, the Navy Ceremonial Guard’s primary mission is to represent the service in Presidential, Joint Armed Forces, Navy, and public ceremonies in and around the nation’s capital. Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard participate in some of our nation’s most prestigious ceremonies, including Presidential inaugurations and arrival ceremonies for foreign officials. In addition, the Navy Ceremonial Guard serves as the funeral escort and conducts all services for Navy personnel buried in Arlington National Cemetery.