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MWR brings services together on softball diamond

By Sgt. Greg Heath, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2003 – More than 100 soldiers found solace from the daily drag of deployed life on a dusty, improvised softball diamond, where eight teams battled for the top spot in a Morale, Welfare and Recreation softball tournament Sept. 7.

The all-day event featured teams from the Air Force; Army; Marines; and Kellog, Brown and Root playing in a double- elimination, round-robin tournament. Kellog, Brown and Root is a company under contract with the Defense Department to provide logistics and support services.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Theriault, a member of Air Force team called "Naturally 'Nawlins," wasn't sure if the competitive nature of interservice rivalries would get the best of the teams.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Theriault. "When you get Air Force, Army and Marines together, it can get pretty competitive, but there was a lot of camaraderie (among) the different services."

For many of the civilians of the Kellogg, Brown and Root team, this was their first day off in recent memory. Along with enjoying their time playing against the service member, they were also pleased with the participants' spirit on and off the softball field.

"There was good sportsmanship all around," said Ivan Jecker, who works in the KBR electrical department. "Originally, we weren't going to play because we didn't have enough equipment for the team, but MWR and the service members were happy to share theirs."

During the tournament, people drifted in and out to root for their teams or grab a bite to eat from the big barbeque thrown in conjunction with the MWR event. And some service members, like Spc. Paul Schexnayder, a 205th Engineer Battalion "Nasty Guard" team member, chose to lose themselves in the event, staying until the final out of the last game -- seven hours after the even started. "It almost feels like being back at home," Schexnayder said.

When the dust finally settled and the sun began to disappear behind the mountain range, the Marine "Dog Pound" team emerged as the champion, finishing the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. The "Dog Pound" pounded the previously unbeaten "Nasty Guard" 17-7 in the tournament finale.

When darkness required cancellation of a planned consolation game, The "Nasty Guard" and Air Force's "Naturally 'Nawlins" finished for a tie for 2nd place, each finishing with a 3-1 record.

The 1st place winners received Operation Enduring Freedom T- shirts, and 2nd place got Operation Enduring Freedom hats, courtesy of MWR. Although not everyone received a hat or T- shirt, John Senatore, MWR program coordinator, said hopes everyone, from the players to the volunteer umpires and cooks, left with at least a little satisfaction from a day well spent.

"I hope everyone had fun," Senatore said. "That was the name of the game."

Cpl. Billy Gaines of Marine Attack Squadron 513, a member of the champion "Dog Pound," said he appreciated the day of friendly competition with the different service members.

"I think everyone out here, whether they won or lost, had a good time," Gaines said. "But it feels good to win."

(Army Sgt. Greg Heath is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGunnery Sgt. Jimmy Sanchez, Marine Attack Squadron 513, crushes a ball deep to right field during a Sept. 7 softball tournament in Bagram, Afghanistan. Sanchez's team, the "Dog Pounds," won the Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored tournament. Photo by Sgt. Greg Heath, USA.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Staff Sgt. Kim Thompson of the Task Force 44 Medical team, lofts a pitch toward home plate during a Sept. 7 Morale, Welfare and Recreation softball tournament in Bagram, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Greg Heath, USA.  
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