ODESSA, Ukraine -- Marines and Sailors of the 24th MEU (SOC), and Marines and soldiers of the eight other nations participating in NATO's Exercise Cooperative Partner 2000 (CP00) took a small operational pause June 25 for some friendly competition in a multi-national sports event.
All countries came out in full force for the five-event Olympics, which included Pull-up/Pushup competition, 400 meter relay race, soccer tournament, volleyball tournament and the event which would have caused a noise meter to explode - arm wrestling.
"I think the Marines I work with really enjoyed this as much as I did," said Sgt. Robert Urban, Machine Gun Squad Leader, Golf Company, from Charleston, S.C. "This is a great thing we're doing here, because we're learning the culture of other countries, how they do things and in what ways they're different from the way we do things."
The competitive spirit of everyone was very high and roars of excitement could be heard clear across the soccer field, and that added to the adrenaline of observers as well as the competitors.
"I couldn't see what was going on in the arm wrestling match. I didn't even know who it was," said GySgt. Benjamin Pangborn, Weapons Platoon Sergeant, Golf Company, from Eastaurora, N.Y. "I know it was USA against some country because the chanting was loud. It was so loud it got me pumped up."
It seemed as though the pause in the exercise was just what the doctor ordered, because most of the servicemembers from all countries kept playing well into the night.
"It's like they didn't want to stop playing," said 1stLt. Bradley Ledbetter, 2nd Platoon Commander, Golf Company, from Huntsville, Ala. "We had to stop after a while because you couldn't see the ball and it wasn't safe to continue play."
Once the evening sports event was complete, everyone again focused on the next phase of CP00 - the Humanitarian Assistance Operation.
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.