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Photo by Mrs. Andrea Nunez
The 24th of November was a cold and windy day during which the first ever 1-21 FA Turkey Bowl, a flag football tournament. The field of battle, Hood Stadium, provided the back drop for teams from across the battalion to compete and in an attempt to claim “Victory”. But in the iconic words of Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod’s, “There could only be one.”. And on this day, the survivors were “The Backbones”, the Senior NCO’s of 1-21 FA, standing tall on the field of battle.
The Senior NCO team walked away triumphantly with the unit trophy after holding on for the win against 575th FSC in the championship game. And although there was only one victor, everyone was a winner in camaraderie and sportsmanship. The tournament was designed as a team building event while celebrating the American traditions of Thanksgiving and football.
The day started off with the First Strike “Are those my men? Fire the weapon!” Officer team, led by LTC Jimmy “Wildcat” Davel, being soundly defeated by the Bravo Bulldogs, led by 1SG Wilder in an unexpected upset. The heavily favored officers of the battalion put up a good fight but could not overcome the speed of Bravo Battery.
The second game featured Headquarters, Headquarters Battery (HHB) playing the Senior NCO “Backbones”. HHB, led by CPT Nathan “Powerhouse” Piereman, started strong, controlling the game until halftime. It was during the break when former Heisman Trophy contender, CSM Terry “Bottom line is…” Gardner rallied the Senior NCO team and led them to victory.
Game 3 featured the Charlie Battery “Comanche’s” being handed a resounding loss by 575th Forward Support Company “Shadows”, led by 1SG Robert “Crazy Legs” Jarzynkowski. 575th FSC’s speed, accurate passing and strong defense were too much for the “Comanche’s” to overcome. After a fierce game, Charlie Battery was eliminated from the tournament.
After a morning of fun, four teams remained: The Senior NCO “Backbones”, the 575th “Shadows”, the Bravo “Bulldogs” and Alpha “Assassins” who received a first round bye.
The afternoon games did not disappoint a crowd who yearned to see a Championship Game. In the second round, the “Backbones” defeated the “Assassins”, and “Shadow” Company handed the “Bulldogs” a disappointing loss. Those who remained in the stands were primed and ready for what would turn out to be an exciting game, sure not to disappoint even the most disinterested fan.
In the final Championship Game of the day, the youth of the Soldiers of 575th “Shadows” was pitted against the experience and resolve of the Senior NCO “Backbones”. The “Shadows” took an early lead following a quick touchdown, but by half-time, the Senior NCO “Backbones” had broke out the icy hot and ace bandages and were in the process of handing Shadow what appeared to be an embarrassing loss. SSG “Lightening” Valdez provide excitement with lightening fast touchdowns while MSG William “I pity the fool.” Thompson provided an impressive display of defensive skills. With less than 3 minutes to play and down by 21, Shadow mounted huge defensive effort and the momentum of the game quickly turned in favor of the 575th. Following a decisive defensive stand that provided the Shadow offense the ball virtually on the goal line and setting up an easy touchdown, 575 FSC returned an interception for a touchdown and suddenly it appeared the improbable was about to happen. It was at that moment that the Backbone decided glory would not be denied. CSM Gardner called a quick timeout and provided a motivational speech that had even the sleeping officer corps on its feet and ready to play. With 575 FSC driving and a sure tying touchdown, all hope seemed lost. In one final stand and reaching down to find the youth of the past, CSM Gardner took control of the game. He swatted passes out of the sky as if they were flies while 1SG Gary “The Punisher” Wilder attempted to remove the Shadow quarterback’s arm from his body and defensive backs covered receives like they were both stuck to fly paper. In the end, the “Backbone” Senior NCO”s held on to defeat “Shadow” 575 FSC by a score of 33 to 26.
Although a trophy was hoisted in victory by the Senior NCO’s of 1-21 FA, all members of the Battalion were winners on this day, as the joy of competition and the thrill of football filled the stadium. Soldiers walked (hobbled) away from the event with smiles (grimaces) on their faces and are now preparing for the Battalion Basketball Tournament where dreams of Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Shaq fill their minds. All units are vowing to win the next tournament, and the Warrior Spirit lives on in 1-21 FA.