JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Washington Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment Soldiers took time off from the roads to enjoy camaraderie while promoting unit cohesion during the first Highlander Games here April 30.

The competition between nine companies of the 1st Bn., 161st Inf. Regt. and the 181st Brigade Support Battalion consisted of seven events: a 5K run, strong man competition, basketball shootout, floor hockey, volleyball, ping pong and boxing.

Although the game winners are still to be determined, the three companies with the highest points at the end of the game will receive an all expense paid homecoming celebration upon returning to Washington State.

Capt. David K. Libby of Ferndale, Wash., with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company and coordinator for the Highlander games said, "We've had successful MWR events before, but we wanted this event to capture everyone's interest and give everyone a day off to participate."

"The hardest part of the whole thing was coordinating all of the events and synchronizing the times, locations and places around the heat of the day and to best suit the sponsoring units," he said.

To kick off the Highlander games, the 5K run started at Holt Stadium.

HHC's 1st Lt. Joseph L. Trudeau, of Spokane, Wash., said, "that (5K run) was really tough. The air is warm and thick this time of the year. It was a challenge to keep up with the pack."

Another Soldier from HHC, Staff Sgt. John A. Arnold, of Billings, Mont., said, "This is my second 5K run ever. I thought I was going to be the last guy to finish. I didn't want to let the team down."

The indoor floor hockey event had teams from each company compete.

Staff Sgt. Hyung C. Ahn, of Seattle, Wash., a member of Charlie Co. maintenance section and assistant floor hockey team captain said, "The Highlander games are just great. I was playing hockey against Chaplain (Maj. Joseph R.) Hammiel and during the scrub, he pushed me up against the wall. Right then, he apologized for pushing me and I took the puck from him."

Capt. Timothy Ozmer, of Spokane, Wash., Delta Co. floor hockey team captain said, "After working out at the gym, a few guys from Delta and Bravo (companies) get together at around 2300 hrs and just play hockey all night. Sometimes, the games go for two to three hours. You're smoked after the games, but it's a great workout."

Although the Highlanders enjoyed the events, the basketball shootout posed a significant challenge for one.

Staff Sgt. Romunda A. Holmes, of Bremerton, Wash., the Charlie Co. communications chief who participated in the basketball shootout, shooting baskets from the three point line, said, "It's been months since I have been able to get out and play some ball. My arms and body are showing my age."

The boxing was the highlight of the Highlander games.

Sgt. Ronald W. Hayden, of Tri Cities, Wash., said, "I give a lot of respect to every fighter up there. It takes a lot of guts to get up there in front of 300 people and box for three rounds. Not only are you exhausted at the end of the round, but you are under the pressure to not let the team down. It's really tough."

Libby agreed the boxing event seemed to attract the biggest crowd.

"The boxing was a great success. Master Sgt. (Thomas F.) Bigley, Capt. (Aron R.) Horiel and I set up the boxing ring and put together some basic rules," he said.

The Highlander games ended with a safe success: no Soldiers were injured.

The games brought all Highlander Soldiers together and the mission of bonding, supporting each other and solidifying an effective combat fighting force was accomplished. Go Highlanders!

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16