AFRICOM Olympics: camaraderie through competition

U.S. Africa Command Photo.
U.S. Africa Command Photo.

By U.S. Navy Chief Mark Richardson
AFRICOM Public Affairs

U.S. Africa Command staff members and their families gathered at Kelley Barracks Aug. 8 for the fourth annual AFRICOM Olympics.

After a day of competition, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa took home the top prize and bragging rights for the next year.

MARFORAF beat out teams from nine other directorates in 21 different events including the 400-meter relay, flag football, kickball, jousting, dizzy bat relay, three-legged race, horseshoes, egg run, ultimate Frisbee, and a mystery event that truly tested the stamina of competitors in an amateur “Ironman-style” event.

Volunteers from each directorate worked together for five months to organize the event that provides a day for staff members from AFRICOM, Special Operation Command-Africa and MARFORAF to build camaraderie, esprit de corps, professional and personal relations among military, Department of Defense, and interagency civilian employees, and family members within the command while enjoying games, fun events, food, and social activities.

Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, deputy to the commander for Military Operations, officially opened the competition and said the annual event is important because it promotes command morale and team building through physical competition on the athletic field.

“It’s a day for folks to come out, have some team spirit, some unity and camaraderie where they don’t have to worry about work for a day. They can bring their families out. It’s just a great opportunity for the command to fellowship together to enjoy some recreation and sportsmanship,” Hummer said.

“Everyone is working very hard. It’s a high op-temp organization. We’re always getting called in at weird hours, so it’s good get everyone together outside work and have fun,” said Steve Davis, from AFRICOM J2 directorate.

“It gives us an opportunity to get out of the office and compete with other people from other offices that we normally wouldn’t interact with and build camaraderie,” said Maj. Justin Riester, SOCAF J35.

Event sponsors included the AFRICOM Family Readiness Group; the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Army Substance Abuse Program’s Warrior Pride Challenge, Army Community Service and Better Opportunities for Single Service members; the Stuttgart Warrior Transition Unit, United Service Organizations, Red Cross and Community Bank, who set up several tents to entertain young children and inform visitors of the many services they offer.

Many of the events were designed to ensure maximum child-friendliness. Face-painting and prize drawings, along with jousting, water-balloon toss and three-legged races helped parents take home kids who’d had fun and were “tuckered-out” at day’s end.

While MARFORAF now has bragging rights, all would agree that the real winner was the entire command who had the opportunity to end the summer on a sunny, flawless day enjoying AFRICOM’s esprit de corps.

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