Four Troops Picked for Inaugural Ball Dance


WASHINGTON - An Air Force medical technician who served in Afghanistan has been chosen to dance with President Barack Obama at an inaugural ball Monday night.

Staff Sgt. Bria Nelson is one of four enlisted men and women announced Friday as dance partners for the president, first lady, vice president and his wife at the Commander in Chief's Ball.

President George W. Bush was the first to host the ball to honor U.S. troops and began the tradition of taking a brief spin with one of the military guests. Obama did so as well at his first inauguration, and this year is doubling the size of the Commander in Chief's Ball to about 4,000 guests, most of them enlistees.

The four chosen to dance each are stationed in the Washington area after serving in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. A board of senior enlisted leaders picked them from more than 50 candidates nominated by military leaders, based on criteria including combat experience and volunteer efforts.

Nelson, an Indianapolis native, currently is serving at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington.

First lady Michelle Obama's partner is Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Easterling, a native of Barnwell, S.C., who is assigned to the Marine Barracks in Washington. He is an expert in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense who helped plan for the Obama's first inauguration and each of his State of the Union addresses.

Army Staff Sgt. Keesha Dentino has been chosen to dance with Vice President Joe Biden. The Homestead, Fla., native is a military police officer who currently serves in Fort Myer, Va., as a patrol explosives detection dog handler.

Jill Biden's partner is Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Figueroa, a Fort Worth, Texas, native who enlisted as a hospital corpsman. Figueroa is assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

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