AL UDEID, Qatar - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines gathered to take part in the first joint services combat games dining in held here July 11.
All the traditional elements of a dining in were present to include the grog bowl, Madam Vice, Mr. Vice and the president. The usual formal dress attire was replaced with service members’ respective duty uniforms and combat face paint.
During the games the spirit of rivalry could be felt as all participants, armed with water balloons, water cannons, and water guns, took aim at the other military service members in attendance.
Although the sergeant of the guard tried to keep control of this rowdy group of combat veterans, it seemed too much to handle. Small factions began firing their water balloons across enemy lines. Some participants took a few shots to the face. Fratricide soon broke out with casualties from friendly fire and enemy fire, all part of the festivities.
Each military service chose two champions to compete in a type of hunger game obstacle course. On the obstacle course, tributes jumped over a wall, dove into a shallow pool of water, and low crawled in sand. Tributes had to complete the course in the fastest time while dodging water balloons from those standing around in attendance.
Col. Edward J. O’Neill, brigade commander, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, gave the Army personnel gathered a pep talk. In the nature of the game, encouraging everyone to take no prisoners and bring home the win.
Staff Sgt. Rachael Loken, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade paralegal noncommissioned officer in charge and Sgt. Maria Black, 3rd Battalion, 43th Air Defense Artillery Battalion medic were chosen to represent the Army. They were the only female only team in the games.
For Black, this is her first combat dining in but stepped up to the challenge of competing for the honor of the Army.
Black also had to do the obstacle course twice before the Army was officially declared a winner of the games.
“The first time I crossed the line I did a combat roll,” stated Black. “All I could do was think I hope this is fast enough to put us in the lead, but if not, the Army was going to be the most motivated and loudest military branch out here.”
And they were, cheering Black and Loken to victory.
“The second time I went through I knew I had it.” Black recounted. “All I heard was go and I remember starting and again finishing with a combat roll and yelling ‘Army’ at the judges and thinking that’s how it’s done.”
For combat dining in veteran Loken, the games were what she looking forward to the most.
“There is something special about going out there, competing and winning,” Staff Sgt. Rachael Loken stated. “The hype was intense and I felt like a real Spartan.”
The combat dining in allow all services to enjoy a time honored tradition even far from home. For the members of the of the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, memories were made that will sustain them through the rest of their time left here in theater.
“It was an awesome event,” Loken added. “It was a great way to change up the traditional dining in while still maintaining some formalities.”
Loken also stated that she loved the camaraderie between the different military branches.
Through encouraging participation in events like this, leaders assess their Soldiers mental well-being and ensure they find an outlet for stress through good-natured fun and games.
Deeds Above Words! Spartans!
This work, Army dominates the combat games, by PFC Regina Machine, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.