News: Marines, ANA play volleyball, strengthen relationships
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan – Marines and Afghan soldiers have fought many battles together in Sangin District, but today they faced off against each other in a different battle.
Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment played volleyball against Afghan National Army soldiers in a friendly match at ANA Post Nabi, Nov. 16.
The patrol’s mission was to visit a local ANA post to see if the Marines could help in any way, but not long after they arrived the Marines had another mission.
“When we got to the compound, we saw the volleyball court and our lieutenant said we might play the ANA,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph Palmer, an infantryman with India Company, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “So we got our players together and challenged them to a game.”
The Afghan commander insisted that his soldiers were very good at volleyball and even said they have beaten the local Afghan special forces team. The stage was set for a friendly match between forces. Each team then picked its best six players and the game began.
“They were good and knew the rules pretty well,” Palmer said. “It was fun to watch their best player hit our guys with the volleyball.”
The Marines did not seem prepared in the first two games and lost by a total of 30-7. But the Marines tried to rally back in the third game, but fell short, losing 15-11. However, the Marines did not leave with their heads down.
“Even though we lost we still had a good time and had some fun,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Nowak, a corpsman with India Company, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines.
While the game was fun for both sides, it was more important than just that.
“This shows that we aren’t here to take over their country, but to help them and be friends with them,” said Palmer, a 21-year-old native of Oriville, Calif. “Whether we are fighting beside them or playing volleyball, we are here to help them.”
Palmer also said the game built a stronger relationship between the two forces who live, train, and fight together.
During the games, spectators from both sides cheered and clapped. At the end of the match-up, laughter and smiles were shared by everyone.
The Marines, who patrol the local area daily, said they would practice and come back for another match with the Afghan soldiers. Until then, the two forces will continue to provide security for the area.