Olympiad makes fun, excitement serious business

12 Sep 2000 | Cpl. Derek A. Shoemake 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

If you could throw it, kick it, run it, cast it, dunk it, shoot it or pull it, Battalion Landing Team 2/2 did it as part of their Warlord Olympics here.

With more than 25 events, the games sponsored by the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)'s ground combat element featured everything from wrestling to football to fishing.

According to MGySgt. David Lynch, operations chief with BLT 2/2, the series of games held here, which had more than 150 participants, was only a part of the whole. The Excelsior Springs, Mo. native said that BLT 2/2 sponsored three Olympiads for each ship within Amphibious Squadron Four: USS Saipan, USS Austin and USS Ashland. These Olympiads were only the beginning. The respective winners of each event will compete for an overall title when all three ships port in Rota, Spain during the MEU's final stop before returning home.

If the action and excitement of these games were any indication, that promises to be an eventful match-up.

With events often occurring simultaneously, action was everywhere. This was due to the city of Trieste allowing BLT 2/2 the use of two stadiums, and events were also held at the pier where USS Saipan was docked.

In Trieste's Valmaura Stadium, Lance Corporal Scott Glover, infantryman with Fox Company's 1st Platoon, came from nowhere to take the top spot in the mile-long run.

"I didn't think I was going to make it," said the surprised West Minster, Md. native of his nearly quarter-mile sprint from fourth into first. "I just went as hard as I could."

In Trieste's indoor Palazzetto Stadium, the hybrid 26th MEU(SOC) / MEU Service Support Group 26 team played a soccer game against Saipan's Navy team with enough highlights to carry an 11 o'clock newscast. The match featured bicycle kicks on the hardwood floors and warp-speed kicking. The Navy team beat the MEU team 1-0, and went on to take the top position in soccer.

Near the ship, spectators were torn between the excitement of tug-of-war or the action of fishing by the pier. 

Master Sergeant Hodge Jordan, BLT 2/2 Weapon's Company Operations Chief and GySgt. Chris Capps, Sniper Platoon Sergeant, rigged a pole that looked like a medieval torture device. The bait: "Hooks; and a whole lot more hooks," said Jordan. "The fish just can't refuse 'em." The bait-free line was laced with more than 12 of those delicious metal prongs. Hodge and Capps took turns dipping the line into the water and violently jerking it upward.

"[Capps and I] were talking last night," said Jordan, "and I said, 'You wanna see how to catch a fish. I'll show you how to catch a fish.'"

It worked. Their hook and jerk method yielded more than a dozen fish for the contest, landing them in first place.

Lynch said the contests were so eventful because the Marines and Sailors were just doing what they do best.

"It's fun to get out here and compete," he said. "It gets the blood flowing and the adrenaline pumping. That's why a lot of these guys joined the military, to have some excitement and adventure."

The results of the competition put BLT 2/2 in first place, the Navy in second, the hybrid 26th MEU(SOC)/MSSG-26 in third and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 in fourth.

However, Lynch advised that running shoes and lethal fishing poles should not be retired. Until the ships pull into Rota, Spain for the final match up, all bets are on.

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)