SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Army News Service, Jan. 3, 2008) - Some of the Army's most decorated Soldiers introduced themselves to some of the top high school football athletes in the country during an ice-breaking social when they were matched up to a friendly competition of push-ups, sit-ups, with a little karaoke thrown in.

The event kicked off a series of events that will lead up to the Army-sponsored and nationally-televised "All-American" Bowl all-star contest in the Alamodome on Saturday.

This event was the first chance for the Soldiers and the All-American high school football players to interact with each other, and help break the ice. "This is a great atmosphere in which to get to know my Soldier Hero and see all of the other Soldiers that are here," said Gerell Robinson, a member of the West team, from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. "They have done some very admirable things during their time in the military that I look up to -- this event is helping us make a great connection with each other."

"This is a great event. I am looking forward to all of the upcoming events this week, getting to know my player on a more individual basis, realizing what a great opportunity it is for them to have been selected to play in this game in front of the whole country on national television," said Army Staff Sgt. Douglas Gahm, assigned to the Arizona National Guard, in Glendale. "It will be more exciting to watch the game now that we will know the players, than to just watch the game on television at home."

The "All-American" Bowl is one of the Army's highest-profile events, and gives fans the chance to see tomorrow's college and NFL stars perform as the nation's top 91 high school stars go head-to-head in a classic East versus West battle.

"The All-American Bowl is a great tribute to players and Soldiers. You can see the camaraderie building between everyone involved here this evening," said the 2007 Army Soldier of the Year, Sgt. Heyz T. Seeker of C Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Ga.

Hoping to retain their title from last year, the East held a strong lead through the first three events, which quickly dissolved after a strong comeback by the West, during the last event, the eating relay.

(Dona Fair writes for the Army and Air Force Hometown News.)