AL ASAD, Iraq -- In the heat and different conditions of Iraq's war-torn environment, Marines are often consumed by their extreme work loads and the monotony of completing the same tasks over and over each day. One cure that they have discovered to counter their never-ending jobs out here was softball.
After competing in two separate leagues of the game, the champions of softball league B, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, challenged their superiors, Marine Air Control Group 38 (Reinforced), who were the runner-ups for softball league A, at Al Asad July 10.
"About a month after we got here, the softball games started," said Master Sgt. Edward A. Krimmel, operations chief, MWCS-38, MACG-38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "This was just a fierce competition between the group commander's team and (communications) squadron. It was a showdown between us."
Taking an early lead of eight runs by the end of the second inning, MACG-38's team, the Blue Falcons, put a vice on their opponents, Red Lightning, for the start of the game.
"Last week, we played and lost against (Marine Aircraft Group 16)," said Sgt. Maj. Don W. Gallagher, sergeant major, MACG-38 (Forward). "When we lost to MAG-16, we lost by two runs, which was a close game. (Communications) squadron said that they should have played them, so I said there is an easy way to settle that -- just bring it to the field."
There was a lot of trash talking going on between the two teams before the game, according to Capt. Dale H. Webster, operations officer, MWCS-38.
Although Red Lightning almost managed to keep the Blue Falcons off the scoreboard after the fourth inning, MACG-38 Marines came back in the last two innings, defeating communications squadron 19 to 13.
"They thought that they could trounce us," said Webster, an El Cajon, Calif., native. "We were a little sluggish at the beginning, and we were missing a few players. We turned it on towards the end, and I think if we played them again, we'd probably get them."
"(Communications) squadron is a big squadron; they have a lot of Marines," said Gallagher, a Great Falls, Mont., native. "They thought that they were going to come out and beat on us. You take it with a grain of salt. Marines are going to be Marines. Someone is always better until you settle it."
According to Gallagher, communications squadron was better than what he had originally expected.
"They actually had a lot of offense," said the Charles M. Russell High School graduate. "I didn't expect them to play that well, but we were our own worse enemy when we quit swinging the bat half way through the game. They had a set of really good players."
Although the Marines with MWCS-38 lost the game, they didn't leave with their heads down or their pride tucked away. As with all of the softball games that they have played, the competition within the unit was just for fun and to break the repetitiveness of their everyday lives while deployed.
"It was just good spirited fun," concluded Gallagher. "It was good to see the Marines get out. It gave them something to look forward to. Win or lose, it didn't matter, as everyone shook hands at the end. A few were a little more tightlipped than others, but if you are going to talk smack, I guess you should bring it."