PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (April 28, 2022) – The 229th Military Intelligence Battalion’s second annual Griffin Games served as a friendly competition that built esprit de corps, resiliency and readiness among Soldiers.
“This event is for all of you,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Lourdes Barragan, the battalion’s senior enlisted advisor, to the approximately 1,500 Soldiers on the Presidio of Monterey’s Price Fitness Center field at the kickoff April 22.
“Thank you for all that you do every single day to be successful, not only within your schoolhouses, but also for our Army,” Barragan told the Soldiers. “We can’t do what we do, and we can’t be the great Army that we are, without each and every one of you.”
Most Soldiers assigned to the battalion are language students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and they competed in teams by company in challenges that included the Army Combat Fitness Test, a ruck march, pugil stick fights, a dodgeball tournament, a variety of games and much more. Company C took the top honors.
The event focused on competition to reinforce resiliency and mental toughness, said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Reynolds, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the games.
“The fight or the victory starts and ends in the mind,” Reynolds said. “It’s a mindset. Victory really starts and ends in the mind, and so we put them against each other to compete and remind them of that mental toughness, that mental agility, to understand that they can overcome, physically, any challenge.”
Battalion leaders want Soldiers to know that defeat does not mean defeat until you accept it, Reynold said.
“If you’re able to bounce back from whatever challenge or whatever setback, you’re not defeated,” Reynolds said. “So we put that competition aspect to be able to challenge them mentally so they understand where the fight really is, it’s in the mind. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends.”
Learning to overcome challenges is important not only for Soldiers in the schoolhouse, but it’s the mindset they’ll need in the future when they are serving in a unit or deployed, Reynolds said.
Soldiers, meanwhile, said they enjoyed the event. While not all Soldiers were able to sign up for the teams that competed, those who did not compete cheered on members of their companies.
Spc. Seth Gilbert, assigned to Company B, competed for his team in the ACFT for the second year in a row.
“It’s definitely fun,” Gilbert said. “It gives us some time to get out of the class and come and enjoy each other’s company.”
Pvt. Noah Witt, assigned to Company C, said he thought the event was great and could not be more proud of the Soldiers in his company who competed for the trophy.
“Everyone worked really hard, and I see the effort that a lot of these guys put into [physical training],” Witt said. “We wake up early in the morning and it can get kind of disheartening sometimes just because we’re tired and we work hard, but seeing everyone come out with a positive attitude is awesome.”
In addition, PoM Army Community Service and the USO of Northern California helped support the event.
Amy Eilcs, USO senior center and operations and programs manager, said the organization provided hot coffee and snacks to keep the Soldiers going and boost their morale.
“We know how hard they work all the time and it’s good to see them be able to take a day and get together as a community,” Eilcs said. “We’re here to help support that and make sure that they feel supported by not only the USO, but the American people that support the USO.”
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Pleasantbey of ACS said the organization had donated water, candy and socks on hand for the Soldiers and staff members on hand to talk about ACS programs.
“[The Griffin Games] build a healthy competitiveness between the young Soldiers and gives them a chance to get away from the books and get out here and get into the physicality of their commitment to serve our country, and so we’re honored to be a part of that and help uplift their spirits and keep that positive energy going,” Pleasantbey said.
Reynolds said he thanks ACS, the USO, the Monterey Police Department, the PoM police and fire departments, as well as other sponsors, for their support, contributions and effort.