News: Marne Madness gives Soldiers break from work
Story by Spc. Michael Adams
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — In the last few weeks, Soldiers have been following the 64 best teams in men's college basketball during March Madness.
To crown a champion of its own, Task Force Marne hosted 10 teams from all over Task Force Marne United States Division — North in a double elimination tournament aptly called Marne Madness.
The tournament started at 10 a.m. Thursday and was capped off Friday night after the championship between the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Dragon and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Wings.
That night, only two teams were left, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Dragons, which had one loss, and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Wings, which was undefeated.
With a win, the dragons once-defeated Dragons could force a second game against the undefeated Wings, they were able to do just that, winning 54-50.
The Wings were in top form early, jumping out to a 15-4 lead, but the Dragon's came roaring back, and cut the lead to 3 by halftime thanks to repeated fast-break opportunities.
Wings maintained a lead for most of the second quarter, sloppy play and bad defense allowed the Dragons to take the lead in the final minutes. The Dragon forced a deciding game with a final score of 54-50.
The final game started with both sides playing sloppy basketball. Wings regrouped and willed their way to a 38-29 win and the Marne Madness championship.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Delaney an air traffic control chief for 3-25th General Support Aviation Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and a member of the Wings basketball team was happy to get the win.
The Syracuse, N.Y., native was happy to be a part of the tournament and the break from work.
"It feels good to get away and do something different for awhile," he said.
But playing all that basketball in two days had its bad side as well as its good.
"It [really] is madness trying to play that many games in a two-day period," he added. "For an old guy like myself, this is painful, but I really enjoyed it. With all of the young guys that can fly around and shoot, it makes me feel young again."
Capt. Alphonso Gilmore, of Jefferson County, Ga., organized the event and was excited by how the Soldiers reacted.
"This is good for morale," he said. "This is needed for Soldiers of all ranks to clear their heads and just have fun."
Gilmore was pleased with what he had seen over the course of the tournament.
"I think this has been an outstanding tournament," he said. "People have come up to me and said 'this is a good tournament.' I don't think anything like this would have happened in my last deployments."
But for him, it wasn't about the tournament it was about the Soldiers.
"This is a big part of morale," he said. "Being in Iraq, we're here to accomplish our mission, but it's always fun to free your mind and do things that you would do back in the states. I would like to thank all the Soldiers who participated in the tournament."