FORT JACKSON, SC -- For the third straight year, Fort Jackson has teamed with the Columbia Blowfish baseball club and the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the Army's birthday with baseball, hot dogs and fireworks. More than 3,200 Fort Jackson Soldiers were in attendance Saturday to witness the Blowfish' 9-3 victory over the Morehead City Marlins in the second game of a doubleheader. The Blowfish came back from a 2-1 loss.

Bill Shanahan, Blowfish owner and president, said the event is about honoring Soldiers and recognizing the Army's birthday.

"It's a great night out here at Capital City Stadium," Shanahan said. "We got a huge crowd, and I think everybody's having a great time."

But the game was about more than just having fun. In between innings, the crowd recognized distinguished veterans who served in wars ranging from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Our youngest Soldiers see their history (in front) of them," said Col. Kevin Shwedo, Fort Jackson's deputy commanding officer. "And they know they have to live up to the expectations of those who preceded them."

The Soldiers at the game were mostly in Advanced Individual Training or Basic Combat Training. For Pvt. Cody Schindler, Company F, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, it was the final opportunity to catch a break before heading to Victory Forge this week.

"It's pretty fun," Schindler said. "It's a change from training."
The game was also a break from the regular training routine for drill sergeants. Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson, a drill sergeant with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, said he enjoyed the game.

"I think it's an excellent opportunity for the Soldiers to come out and show their support for the community and also for the Blowfish to honor the Army and our Soldiers during the anniversary weekend of our birthday," Anderson said.

Shwedo said that the opportunity of introducing the Soldiers to war heroes past and present is invaluable.

"It's interesting that many of the drill sergeants are a little hesitant about giving their Soldiers a little bit of freedom by coming out here," Shwedo said. "In about the second inning, they see their Soldiers (are) having fun; they realize that they're learning a little bit about the customs and traditions of the force; and they're then fighting for them to come back the following year. So it's a great opportunity."

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