Pacific-wide softball tournament kicks off at Yongsan
May 23, 2008
<b>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</b> - Hundreds of military softball players converged at Yongsan's Lombardo Field May 23 to kick-off the 18th Annual Pacific-wide Softball Tournament.
"Players came from many nations like Japan, Thailand, the United States, Germany, and various other places to participate, enjoy the mutual friendships and have fun," said Bennie Jackson, sports director for U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan, host of the annual Memorial Day weekend event.
The four-day tournament's history dates to the 1970s when Army Soldiers gathered in the Philippines to play sports, Jackson said. It moved to Yongsan in 1990.
Joining the action this year are 24 mens' and 14 womens' teams to play 80 hours of softball through the afternoon of Monday, May 26.
"It is great to see many Servicemembers from all over the Pacific gathered here today to join this tournament," said Command Sgt. Major Ralph Rusch, USAG-Yongsan command sergeant major, during the tournament's opening ceremony. "Let's have a really good time and be safe."
Tony Iafelice, an access control officer for USAG-Red Cloud in Uijeongbu, South Korea, is in his seventh year playing in the tournament.
"My team (the Guzzlers) has a quite a long history participating in this softball tournament. This team is a very strong and motivated team. We won five times before in other Pacific-wide softball tournaments, and I am looking forward to winning this year, too."
For Marine Cpl. Morgan Francies, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, Okinawa, Japan, this is his first trip to Yongsan. He plays on the Yardbusters, which is in its fifth year participating in the tournament.
"I am really excited and ready to play," he said.
The championship games are scheduled for Monday at the fields near Yongsan's Collier Field House.