MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — The Marine sprints across the green stretch of field with the opponent tailing closely behind. He looks back and sees his fellow warriors battling to protect their captain from being brought down. Less than a second later, he spots his target spiraling toward him before diving to save it from hitting the ground.
“Touchdown!” yells the referee from the sidelines as the Marine picks himself off the ground to celebrate the successful catch and victorious football game.
Second Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, gave their weathered camouflage utilities a week-long break to carry out a battalion size Olympics promoting unit cohesion and competitive spirits.
The week kicked off with several events to include flag football, soccer, basketball, softball, Volleyball and a 5k run. One Marine, who nearly led his team to the finals, agreed the event brought out the competitive edge in his Marines.
“We had a good group of guys, and we just played,” said Sgt. Robert Medel, a platoon sergeant with 2/8 and a Newark, N.J. native. We played hard and had fun doing it,”
The fun and excitement continued through the week and truly gave the Marines and sailors within the battalion to take a break from the stressors of continuous training.
“It was nice to see us catch a break and just come out and play ball,” said Cpl. Patrick Tep of Alexandria, Va., and a training noncommissioned officer with 2/8.
The battalion commander for 2/8, Lt. Col. Kevin Clark of Smithville, Mo., has had his Marine’s continuously preparing for the battles ahead and wanted to remind them that preparing for a deployment is a marathon as opposed to a sprint. They must be patient, but know it is still okay to unwind and have a little fun while building teamwork.
“Our goal for the 2/8 Olympics this week, was simple; build teamwork, cohesion, Esprit de Corps, and have fun,” said Clark. “Those intangibles are equally, if not more important than any field evolution. Without them, I don’t think we can be nearly as effective as our nation demands.”
Some of the more unique events included the 3 Gun Competition, in which a team of three Marines started the timed event by running 500 meters before taking on firing three different weapons from three different positions at varying distances. The 3 Gun Competition, as well as all the other events, led up to the Strong-Man Competition, which was the final event for the 2/8 Olympics.
The hundreds of Marines and sailors crowded the 80-meter stretch of concrete to cheer on their teams. After the rigorous event which included a 100 pull-ups, a tow bar carry relay, tire flip relay and 80-meter humvee push, the entire battalion formed up for an awards presentation not pertaining to the competition.
Three young Marines were awarded Navy Commendation Medals for rendering first aid during a 2 car vehicle accident, where one vehicle caught fire and fought the fire until emergency services arrived.
After congratulating the Marines for their heroic efforts, Clark gathered his Marines for his final words before awarding the trophies well deserved by each of the companies.
“This week was a good break for our battalion and it was well deserved. 2/8 experienced several deployment date changes, and over the past several months, we never let off the gas,” explained Clark. “Frankly, we needed to take a knee. The Marines enjoyed themselves and I suspect our small unit leaders will further exploit opportunities to develop teamwork, cohesion, and Esprit de Corps through sports and the spirit of competition.”