U.S. Army Sgt. Kilian Abers had the best spot in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium to see the national anthem before the start of Super Bowl LIV.
Abers, a 2016 graduate of Pine Valley in Cattaraugus County, was part of the military color guard on the field for the anthem, directly behind singer Demi Lovato.
As Lovato was signing, Abers' mother, Holly, joked that she was saying: “Move the camera, pan left, pan left.”
Abers was plenty visible behind the singer.
He has been in the Army for four years, enlisting after high school. He played football, basketball and baseball at Pine Valley.
“I’m sergeant and a part of the Continental Color Guard that’s attached to the fourth battalion, third infantry regiment out of Fort Myer in Virginia,” Abers told The News. “Our unit is tasked with high-visibility missions such as the Super Bowl, the MLB all-star game and the World Series.”
Abers’ family lives in the Town of Leon, about 20 miles west of Ellicottville.
He has done missions as part of the color guard to the White House, been part of President Trump’s inauguration and the recent U.S. visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and events at the Capitol and the Pentagon.
How did he get the color guard duty?
“Luck of the draw,” Abers said. “I was the right height and look for what they wanted, so I was pulled over there right before the last presidential inauguration. I was supposed to be in the infantry, but I was pulled right after basic training.”
Abers was encouraged to apply because of his leadership skills and his tall and thin frame. Members of the color guard have to pass fitness tests and maintain a certain weight.
Abers had family and friends watching the game at the Cherry Creek VFW Post 2522. His grandfather is a Vietnam vet and member of the lodge.
“The only thing that would have made it better is if the Bills would have made it to the Super Bowl,” said his mom, Holly. “I told him, this might be your only chance to be on the field at the Super Bowl. … The phone has been ringing and I've been getting messages with people congratulating us and sending well wishes. It’s really nice to have this connection in the community.”