News: A different kind of battle in the desert
Story by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
CAMP BEUHRING, Kuwait – Behind barbed wire and armed guards, squares off a Seattle Seahawk and a Denver Bronco. Halfway across the world from the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, two intelligence analysts assigned to the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will watch their teams battle from Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
Brothers-in-arms since 2012, Staff Sgt. Carter McSwain and Staff Sgt. Cory Maypray, together, helped develop the units’ intelligence capabilities prior to the brigade’s deployment to Kuwait.
Their October deployment coincided with the NFL’s football season, and made every Sunday a quick reprieve from their 12-hour shifts of analyzing and debriefing the intelligence concerns of the United States in the Middle East. As their deployment wore on and the football season began to reach its climax, McSwain’s Seahawks and Maypray’s Broncos seemed destined to battle.
A classic clash of an unstoppable offense and immovable defense, reflected in McSwain’s and Maypray’s unique fandoms, one based on family the other on loyalty.
From Bothell, Washington, McSwain and his family have always bled Seahawk Blue.
“My dad used to work some of the games off time when he was a police officer in King county, back when they used to play in the Kingdome,” said McSwain. “Every Sunday it was tradition to get together and watch the game as a family.”
When he joined the Army, the separation from his family caused him to lose some interest in the Seahawks, until 2005, when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took the Seahawks to their franchise first Super Bowl, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I knew then, I truly was a Seahawks fan, win or lose,” said McSwain.
Maypray on the other hand grew up in Gary, Indiana, where he watched the Colts growing up, and liked the game but could never quite get into his home team. When he joined the Army, the game clicked, the competitiveness and camaraderie resonated with him.
“One of my really good buddy’s, Brandon Snyder, who recently passed away, was a die-hard Colts fan,” said Maypray. “He was from the same area as me and we waited for it together every Sunday in Iraq.”
But while his fandom for the game increased, so did his value of loyalty, one of the seven core Army Values. And when the Colts began to change their roster, it put Maypray in a tough spot.
“The team I grew up watching changed on me, I no longer recognized any of the players,” said Maypray. “When they got rid of Peyton Manning, the first opportunity they had, I questioned the direction of the team. We woke up every Sunday in Iraq watching the same core group of guys. We became invested in them, what they were doing and they became part of us. When they left, my understanding about loyalty in the Army spurred me and completely turned me around on the Colts.“
In 2011, Maypray was stationed in Fort Carson, Colo., just outside of Colorado Springs. He was always a passing fan of the Broncos but his affinity grew during his deployment to Afghanistan that year. Then two years later the direction of his fandom came to a head.
Peyton Manning, quarterback of the Colts Maypray grew up with now with the Broncos faced off against quarterback, Andrew Luck of the new Colts.
“I didn’t know who to root for, but when the owner of the Colts had choice words for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, I knew I found my team,” said Maypray.
The Broncos lost the game but they won Maypray’s loyalty.
While Maypray said he would have been “up a creek” more than a few times without McSwain, their natural competitiveness came out in their joint interview.
“If the Seahawks win I’ll probably get a huge poster made and hang it behind my desk and let everyone know I represent the twelfth man,” said McSwain.
Maypray quickly interjected, “He’s saying if, I don’t really see an if, I don’t see an alternative future where the Seahawks win.”
“Sorry, when they win,” corrected McSwain.
Banter aside; using their skills as intelligence analysts, their opinion on keys to game both reflected the clash of defense versus offense.
“While the Seahawks may have an amazing defense and may hold the Broncos scoreless for a quarter, they will not have the offense to keep up with Peyton Manning after he adjusts,” said Maypray.
“The ability for quarterback Russell Wilson to get the ball into his receivers hands will be key, because we all know the Seattle defense will come out to play,” said McSwain. ”This will definitely be one for the record books, with the number one defense versus the number one offense.”
Regardless of the outcome of the game, according to both McSwain and Maypray, if football is anything, it’s Army.
“It’s a way of bonding, it’s a way of exciting our competitive natures, we have people from all walks of life, from across the country all coming together sharing an experience,” said Maypray. “And if you get to rub it a little in your coworkers face, like I will McSwain’s, it’s all the better.”
McSwain responded with a laugh.
McSwain predicts a 27-21 Seahawks win, while Maypray predicts and 21-7 Broncos win.