MSSG-11 uses sports to enhance unit pride, develop unit cohesion during six-month deployment

3 Jun 2006 | Lance Cpl. Daniel R. Lowndes 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors of Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 11, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), are using their free time to take part in an Olympic-style sports tournament during their stay here.

The 11th MEU (SOC) is on a six-month deployment in the Persian Gulf region in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Its forces are currently stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, where they are conducting desert sustainment training.

The tournament, which includes events such as basketball, softball, volleyball, flag football, ultimate frisbee, weightlifting and running, were organized to promote camaraderie, unit cohesion and exercise, according to Gunnery Sgt. Christopher J. Mifflin, group gunnery sergeant, MSSG-11, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Marines and sailors work very hard and taking part in sports is a good opportunity for them to relax, build strong bonds and get their mind off of work, said 1st Sgt. Scott T. Pile, group 1st sergeant.

Teams are being fielded from the communications, headquarters, military police, maintenance, supply, transportation support and engineer sections and the health services detachment.
Detachment chiefs were tasked with organizing tournaments for each sport.  They created the match-ups usually by drawing names out of a hat, said Mifflin. "Various staff noncommissioned officers within the unit wanted to do something that would encourage competition, boost morale and be fun for their Marines."

"I have Marines coming up to me all the time asking me when we are having the next competition. Marines have totally embraced this," said Mifflin.

Sgt. Bjorn B. Hermensen, radio operator, "Comm Crushers," communications section, is one of these Marines. Hermensen said these events are giving him and his fellow Marines an escape from the daily routine of training here in the desert and on ship. "We get to interact with each other in a more lax and comfortable environment," said Hermensen, who is on the volley ball and basketball team and took part in the 5-K run competition.

MSSG-11 has so far completed tournaments in basketball, softball, volleyball, and running.  As of June 1, Marines from the Transportation Detachment are currently leading in the standings with 38 points. Engineer Detachment is in 2nd place with 28 points. Teams get 10 points for placing first in an event, said Mifflin.

According to Mifflin, although they are playing for no more than pride and bragging rights, the teams are taking the competition very seriously.

"Detachments are making time to practice for events and have even created uniforms to distinguish themselves," said Mifflin.

The inherent drive Marines have to win has produced some very spirited and often heated competition. That's no surprise to Lance Cpl. Philip D. Tait, operations clerk, who plays with the "Desk Jockeys" from the Operations Section. Although everyone wants to have a good time, they also want to keep it competitive. "Each section wants to be able to say they beat another section," said Tait.

Hermensen agreed with Tait, "No matter what the objective or competition, Marines always play to win."

According to Tait, although sometimes tempers flare and Marines get loud, the competitiveness never gets out of hand. The spirit of good sportsmanship always prevails. "After the game and no matter who wins, everyone shakes hands and goes away smiling."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
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Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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