ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Heroes gathered beneath cloudy skies that threatened rain to compete on the longest day of the year. Nervous tension crept through the air as teams sized each other up and stared the others down. The stage was set and spectators lined the road. Service members answered the call Saturday on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage for honor and bragging rights during the 2014 Hero Games.
Service members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson competed against each other and the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage in trials of strength, agility, and fortitude in front of crowds of their families, friends and community.
The friendly competition of the Hero Games is hosted annually by the Anchorage Downtown Partnership and is meant to honor local emergency service personnel and military members.
“It gives us a chance to show off who we are and what we do,” said Sgt. Alexander Bowden, 545th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade.
The first event of the day was the tire roll-and-flip, followed by the agility course, endurance course, scooter race, tug-of-war and assorted other physical challenges. Even the doughnut-eating competition was designed to test the competitors' resiliency and fortitude.
“My favorite event, even though I didn't participate, was the tug-of-war,” said Senior Airman Kenneth Mendenhall, a member of the Alaska Air National Guard team, and a 176th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. “It is fun seeing two teams go head-to-head like that.”
Mendenhall was a crowd favorite for his tenacity in the agility course. Even though he encountered difficulties during the hurdle portion, he still managed to win his heat.
“It was fun,” Mendenhall said. “I jumped over first one, fell and smacked my bottom. I saw the beam fall, felt my glasses fall off, and thought 'keep going, keep going.'”
This year the 793rd Military Police Battalion's team took first place and bragging rights for the 2014 Hero Games. The JBER Fire Dogs, 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters, took second place and Charlie Company of the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment placed third.
“We all competed really hard,” said Bowden. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone here. Everyone in the 793rd MP Battalion did an outstanding job, and I am proud of everyone. I look forward to doing this again next year.”