Dragons celebrate Independence with soccer match
First Sergeant Pablo Palomar, the goalkeeper for 1/15 Inf., 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID, clears the ball during the Brothers In Arms soccer tournament at Contingency Operating Site Echo, Iraq, July 4.

<b>CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE ECHO, Iraq<b> - The Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, opened the gates of COS Echo for the Brothers In Arms Soccer Tournament to celebrate Independence Day with their Iraqi Security Force partners July 4.

Teams representing the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, foreign-national guard force, civilian contractors, and the 1/15 Inf. Regt., competed in a round-robin tournament followed by an awards presentation and cook out.

"Playing together is all about having the freedom to do it," said Sgt. William Sutter, Headquarters Company, 1/15 Inf. "During Operation Iraqi Freedom five, this never could have happened."

Command Sergeant Major Mark Moore, 1/15 Inf., has seen the changes in Iraq first-hand.

"During our last deployment, Lt. Gen. (Rick) Lynch said, 'it's all about the people'," said Command Sgt. Maj. Moore. "The more we work together, the more I see how important those personal relationships are."

The Iraqi teams earned the top spots, with the Iraqi Police taking first place, and the Iraqi Army team finishing in second. For the Iraqi players, it was more than just a game.

"We really enjoyed coming to play against some different teams," said Maj. Raied Muhsn, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and the team's coach. "It was great to be here with our brothers."

The theme of brotherhood resonated from tournament play to the awards presentation.

"Today really showed our partnership," said Lt. Col. Anthony Lowrey, 1/15 Inf. "We all came together, played hard, and had fun."

After both American and Iraqi leaders spoke to the assembled players and Soldiers, the teams were presented framed photos, medals, and certificates of appreciation for their participation in the festivities.

The 1/15 Inf. team finished fourth in the tournament after having limited time to practice as a team.

"We only had about four days to prepare," said Sutter. "But next time, we will be ready."

The bonfire was lit and the 1/15 Inf. band, Sexy Dragon, took the stage as the sun set on Independence Day at COS Echo.

"It doesn't matter what language you speak, or what country you're from," said Command Sgt. Maj. Moore. "With soccer, it is all about getting out there and playing together."

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