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Commander’s Cup Competition rallies Airmen, boosts morale

Col. Michael Florio, 64th Air Expeditionary Group Commander, leads the group in a formation run, Jan. 25, to begin the Commander’s Cup competition. Members of the group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Cynthia Brockes)

Col. Michael Florio, 64th Air Expeditionary Group Commander, leads the group in a formation run, Jan. 25, to begin the Commander’s Cup competition. Members of the group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Cynthia Brockes)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Garrette, Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, Staff Sgt. Stephen Waite, and Airman 1st Class Jessica Navarro represent the 64th Expeditionary Support Squadron, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle course. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Jim Dowell)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Garrette, Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, Staff Sgt. Stephen Waite, and Airman 1st Class Jessica Navarro represent the 64th Expeditionary Support Squadron, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle course. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Jim Dowell)

Capt. Steven Vanden Bos, Senior Master Sgt. Dan Farmer, Capt. Jeffrey Pelehac, and Master Sgt. Lisa Castillo, carry a 165-pound litter, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle challenge. All are members of the 64th Expeditionary Support Squadron. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Capt. Steven Vanden Bos, Senior Master Sgt. Dan Farmer, Capt. Jeffrey Pelehac, and Master Sgt. Lisa Castillo, carry a 165-pound litter, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle challenge. All are members of the 64th Expeditionary Support Squadron. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Senior Airmen Travis Munn and Nicholas Marlow, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, flip a 300-pound tire, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle course. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout.(U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Senior Airmen Travis Munn and Nicholas Marlow, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, flip a 300-pound tire, Jan. 25, in the combat obstacle course. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout.(U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Master Sgt. David Kalal, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, carries a charged fire hose, Jan. 25, in the firefighter’s challenge. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Master Sgt. David Kalal, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, carries a charged fire hose, Jan. 25, in the firefighter’s challenge. Members of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Tech. Sgt. Taravus Melton, 64th Air Expeditionary Group staff, competes in the firefighter’s challenge, Jan. 25, hauling up a 42-pound section of fire hose. Members of the group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout.(U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

Tech. Sgt. Taravus Melton, 64th Air Expeditionary Group staff, competes in the firefighter’s challenge, Jan. 25, hauling up a 42-pound section of fire hose. Members of the group competed in the annual three-day Commander's Cup in Southwest Asia. Events included M-16A2 assault rifle assembly, carrying sand bags, pushing a HMMWV, a home run derby, firefighter's challenge and others before a final steak cookout.(U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Nikodem)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The sun shone bright on the Airmen of the 64th Air Expeditionary Group as they formed up the morning of Jan. 25 to start three days of competition, team work and camaraderie.

"The Commander's Cup is a 64th AEG tradition, testing each Airman's mental and physical fitness in a challenging but fun setting," said Col. Michael Florio, 64th AEG commander. "We have a variety of events so all Airmen can find one to participate in. The competition between the squadrons allows team building, as well as recreation."

After a two-mile formation run, each squadron squared off to see who would win the cup. Events ranged from challenging to mere fun. The events designed to be the most challenging included the combat obstacle course and the firefighters challenge. The firefighters challenge comprised five stations: carry a 42-pound fire hose up ten flights of stairs; hoist a 42-pound hose up five stories; simulate a forced entry using a 9.5-pound sledge hammer, hitting a tire 20 times; run with a fire hose for 75 feet before opening the nozzle and shooting a target with water; and then dragging a 165-pound "victim" 100 feet backwards.

"This was an awesome event to see people competing, and working together, giving it all they had," said Master Sgt. David Kalal, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron first sergeant and a firefighter event competitor.

Event organizer Master Sgt. Adam Crowe, 64th Expeditionary Support Squadron fire department quality assessment, agreed.
"I've been a part of several fire fighter events while deployed, and this one was No. 1 in my book," Crowe said. "Everyone seemed to enjoy the events and the physical challenge involved."

The combat obstacle course also challenged competing teams, who ran a mile, assembled weapons, hauled sandbags, flipped a 300-pound tire, carried a 165-pound litter and pushed a Humvee - all timed.

"The Combat O(bstacle) course was an exhilarating experience," said Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Watson, 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. "I was truly excited with the team effort and seeing the females work just as hard as the males in each event - M-16 assembly, carrying sand bags and pushing a Humvee. I would love to do it again."

Even standard events had a twist. The popular home run derby required each batter to wear body armor for five of ten hits. For the official Air Force physical training test, four of the ten participants from each squadron were randomly picked. Darts - typically considered relaxing - faced the challenge of questions from the Airman's Manual, and correct answers earned extra throws from the line. The competition ended with a steak cookout and games including horse shoes, tug of war and, group-favorite, capture the flag.

While there were many winners and losers in each competition, at the end of the day everyone appeared to come out on top.

"It was an enjoyable event had by all participants," said Lt. Col. David Sieve, 64th ESS commander. "It was great to see everyone out on the friendly fields of strife competing, as well as getting to know one another. There was a true sense of camaraderie."