FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Twenty-four Fort Drum Soldiers were invited to watch a Syracuse University basketball game Sunday in a box suite at the Carrier Dome, courtesy of four local companies that split the cost.

Local executives decided to show their appreciation to the 10th Mountain Division (LI) by offering tickets to each of the brigades on Fort Drum and attending the game with the Soldiers.

Attending a basketball game in the NCAA's Big East Conference was the opportunity of a lifetime for many of the Soldiers who participated.

"I was pretty happy about it," said Staff Sgt. Jareen Anderson, an AH-64 Apache mechanic in the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. "I would recommend it to anybody who is a basketball fan."

At the game, the corporate executives and the 10th Mountain Division Soldiers exchanged thanks for the other's service. Soldiers expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to see an SU basketball game from box seats. In return, the civilians attending the game expressed appreciation for the military.

Soldiers in 3rd Brigade Combat Team continue to have an ongoing partnership with Syracuse University, because the organizations' target audiences share similarities.

Last summer, the SU football team conducted a weeklong preseason training camp at Fort Drum, where they lived in the barracks and conducted drills with Soldiers. In exchange, SU has provided Soldiers and their Families with tickets to various sporting events.

Soldiers appreciate opportunities to partner with local communities surrounding Fort Drum, as well as a chance to enjoy activities off post.

"It was really nice being up here in the box suite," said Spc. Jarett McCoy, an infantryman in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "It's definitely important to just get out of the barracks. If you are a single Soldier, it is nice to get out."

Aside from being a great time for Soldiers and their civilian sponsors, this was a chance for Soldiers to represent their units and the Army to the local community.

"We have a moral, legal and ethical obligation to maintain community operations," said Lt. Col. Brian Beckno, 2-87 Infantry commander and officer in charge of the event. "We have to remain connected with the American citizens, and today was a great opportunity to do that."

"It was a great event. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves," Beckno said.