Barnwell native to dance with First Lady

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Staff Writer

A Barnwell native and U.S. Marine has been chosen to dance with First Lady Michelle Obama during the president's inaugural ball Monday, Jan. 21.

According to the Associated Press, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Easterling is one of four enlisted men and women chosen to dance with the president, first lady, vice president and his wife at the Commander in Chief's Ball. 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, reports the AP.

Easterling and the other three honorees -- Staff Sgt. Bria Nelson, Army Staff Sgt. Keesha Dentino, and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Figueroa -- are all stationed in the Washington, D.C., area after serving in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. They were chosen out of more than 50 candidates nominated by military leaders by a board of senior enlisted leaders based on criteria, including combat experience and volunteer efforts, reports the AP.

President George W. Bush was the first to host the ball honoring U.S. troops. He began the tradition of taking a brief spin with one of the military guests.