Memorial Basketball game held in honor of fallen Soldier
Story and photo by Spc. Michael Camacho
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 137th Assault Helicopter, hosted an Army versus Air Force memorial basketball game and a game for JBB’s old-timers Nov. 30 at the East Gym at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in honor of Spc. Michael Cote, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief with A Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, who died Sept. 19 when his helicopter crashed at JBB.
The event raised more than $4,000 in donations that will go to a college fund for Cote’s infant daughter, Brooke Cote, said Spc. Kylie Perrine, a supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1/137th AHB.
“We wanted to do something in her name because all Cote ever talked about was being a dad,” said Perrine, a Toledo, Ohio, native. “He would always say ‘I didn’t go to college but my daughter will go to college. I didn’t do this but she will do this.’ So this was a way for us … to help his dream be complete.”
Perrine said roughly 300 service members and personnel attended the fundraiser, buying T-shirts and donating whatever cash they had, she said.
The focus of the event was the Army vs. Air Force game, said Sgt. Brandon Scott, event coordinator and supply sergeant with HHC, 1/137th AHB. There was also an “old school” basketball game, which was only open to patrons 35 years or older, he said.
The JBB community came together to see the basketball game, but more importantly to remember and honor Cote, said 1st Sgt. Gary Sanders, the senior noncommissioned officer with A Co., 1/52 AVN.
“It was much more than just a basketball game for JBB, it was a memorial,” said Sanders, a Cincinnati native. “It was a way people … brought something good out of a bad situation.”
During halftime, a memorial presentation showed photos and video of Cote. There in the middle of a close, enthusiastic game, everyone showed quiet respect for their fallen comrade, said Sanders.
“The whole audience went silent,” he said. “You could drop a pin in that place and you would have heard it. Everybody stopped and started watching the screen.”
Sanders said the trophy awarded to the winning Army team will be sent to Cote’s wife, Ashlee Cote. Members of the unit continue to stay in touch with her, he said.
Perrine said overall, this was an event that honored Cote’s memory and his personality.
“He was loud, he was funny, he was full of life,” she said. “With the cheering and the bantering … and the morale – that was Mike. He was never down.”
Service members at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, signed a memorial banner at an Army versus Air Force basketball game and memorial service in honor of Spc. Michael Cote, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief with A Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment. Cote died from injuries sustained in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash Sept. 19 at JBB.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Camacho)