Rockets Don't Deter Champion Hoop Fans

Sgt. 1st Class William Appleby
Unit Public Affairs Representative
118th Medical Battalion (Area Support)

BALAD, Iraq — Multiple rocket attacks and lack of sleep couldn't keep Connecticut soldiers on Logistics Support Area Anaconda here Tuesday from watching their hometown collegiate powerhouse complete a sweep of the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments.

Members of the Headquarters Detachment, 118th Medical Battalion, whose home station is Newington, set their alarms early and rescheduled physical training Monday and Tuesday so they wouldn't miss the University of Connecticut Huskies become dual national champions.

"Basketball is king in Connecticut," exclaimed Sgt. Joseph Phaneuf, of Eastford. "It was great to see Duke go down [in the men's semi-finals]." Phaneuf's home is a short fifteen minutes from the Storrs campus.

The men's team defeated Georgia Tech to take the title.

Two rocket attacks did not deter the Husky fans enthusiasm Tuesday. Soldiers quickly donned their body armor and helmets then settled in to watch the women's team defeat perennial favorite Tennessee.

"It was good, [like] we were back home for a few hours, in my living room with my friends, discussing what was on TV, something totally non-military," said Staff Sgt. Christopher McCarty, 32, of Meriden. " The [rocket attack] brought you back to the reality of where you were."

The 118th commands and control health services throughout Iraq with separate companies providing medical care from the Turkish border to the border with Kuwait, including the Troop Medical Clinic here.

Anaconda's TMC and 118th troop living quarters will soon proudly display UCONN NCAA championship flags promised by Connecticut National Guard headquarters.

The school put Connecticut on the map again this year. The soldiers of the 118th Med Bn will ensure that all of LSA and Iraq know why.


final game
Soldiers from the 118th Medical Battalion watch the final game between UCONN's Husky's and Georgia Tech's Yellow Jacket during a rocket attack on LSA Anaconda.