FOB KALSU, Iraq - Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen alike celebrated Independence Day in grand style here Tuesday as they took part in a variety of events scheduled around the nation's birthday.
The day was centered on the Warhorse Commander's Cup, pitting units against each other in a variety of sporting events.
The day commenced in the pre-dawn hours as the Oakland Athletics and Fox Sports Net- Bay Area paid tribute to servicemembers in Iraq with a special Independence Day telecast of the Detroit Tigers-A's baseball game on American Forces Network.
Servicemembers stationed here were the stars of the telecast, and their family members, who resided in or near Oakland, were special invited guests of the A's at the ballpark. Prior to the game, the troops were interviewed and talked to their families. The interviews were then shown throughout the game and live shots of the servicemembers watching the game were televised, and players from the A's gave special greetings to the servicemembers.
"I was nervous talking to my favorite player, Eric Chavez," said Pvt. Bryant Ullerich, signal support specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, "But it was great. He told me that we were the real heroes and how much they thought of us and what we do."
"It had been a long time since I saw my family," said Navy Pett Officer 2nd Class Angela McLane, combat camera video journalist, Fleet Combat Camera Group. "This was a great event. It's nice to know that people out there support us so much."
An early-morning fireworks show, sponsored by terrorists, attempted to derail the festivities as indirect-fire landed here. No one was injured in the attack and there was no damage to any buildings or equipment so the show went on.
Before the thermometer had a chance to reach triple digits, several outdoor sporting events began. Units competed in volleyball, basketball, flag football, dodge ball and horseshoes. The indoor events were held after noon, including billiards, dominoes, spades and weightlifting.
The dining facility served up Fourth of July fare with hamburgers, barbecue chicken and ribs and assorted deserts. The DFAC also stayed open all-day instead of its normal operating hours, to give the feel of a cookout and provided everyone the opportunity to eat when and how often they liked.
The closing ceremonies were officiated by Col. John Tully, commander, 2nd BCT, who spoke to the troops and awarded the Commander's Cup to, Special Troops Battalion, the winning unit.
"This was a great job by everyone," said Tully. "Terrorists tried to derail our Fourth of July, but it will take a lot more than that to stop Warhorse."