News: 'Payne Games' keeps Marines prepared, provides camaraderie
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
COMBAT OUTPOST PAYNE, Afghanistan— Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge are the five D’s of dodge ball.
But Marines at Combat Outpost Payne have added a letter of their own to the popular playground game: Don—as in don and clear your gas mask.
Marines and sailors with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), played “combat dodge ball” during the weekly “Payne Games,” Jan. 30.
Six teams competed in the dodge ball game, where wearing a gas mask was not an option.
“The gas mask definitely made the air warmer and more difficult to breathe,” said Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Snider, an administration clerk with 3rd LAR. “Depth perception and peripheral vision were thrown off, too.”
The rest of the rules of dodge ball stayed the same and the games began. The semi-finals game went down to a one-ball playoff, but the championship game was a landslide.
Just moments into the final match, the administration team found themselves down 4 men to 1. With a solid lead, the Marines with the motor transport team ganged up on their opponent and threw three balls at once.
When the dust settled, motor transport was the champion of the “Payne Games.”
Each week a different battalion section chooses a combat fitness activity and the warriors compete for the “Payne Games Belt,” a utilities belt with a metal wolf’s head attached to it representing the battalion’s nickname, “Wolfpack.”
“It feels great to finally be able to badger supply about having the belt,” said 1st Lt. John Yacos, the motor transport officer-in-charge and captain of the motor transport team, with 3rd LAR.
Until dodge ball, the supply team had won every week.
“The games were started by our supply officer last year when the battalion was in Iraq,” Yacos said. “This year it came with us to Afghanistan.”
The games change every week and have included tire flips, ammo-can lifts, fireman carries, and even an ambulance push. While many of the events are done by an individual, the competition can only be won by a team.
“It’s not about the individual, it’s about the team,” said Yacos, a 28-year-old native of Overland Park, Kan. “It helps build camaraderie within the sections and reminds Marines and sailors they are not alone.”
The “Payne Games” are having a positive effect on the morale of the camp, Yacos said.
“It gives the Marines something to look forward to each week,” Yacos continued. “Even if they don’t compete, many Marines come out to watch the competition.”
“It’s fun because it breaks up the weeks,” said Snider, a 22-year-old native of Tulsa, Okla. “It’s always something different, but the dodge ball was definitely fun.”
It has more than just an effect on the morale, though.
“It’s great incentive for all the Marines to stay in shape during the week so they can be competitive on Sunday,” Yacos said. “The games definitely bring out the aggressive nature in all of us.”
Yacos also said that it is invaluable for the Marines to stay in combat shape during the deployment.
Next week, the games will be organized by the sailors of the Shock Trauma Platoon who vowed to make it the most difficult week yet. To that, the Wolfpack Marines howled, “Bring it on and give us the belt!”