U.S. NAVAL CONTRACTING CENTER, Singapore --
Summer Slam 2008, a sports tournament held by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the Sembawang area of Singapore, took place June 4-5 with participants from the 15th MEU, PHIBRON 3 and crew of USS Peleliu (LHA 5).
The teams of Marines and sailors of all ranks took part in single elimination games of basketball, softball and soccer. The reward, aside from bragging rights in the weeks and months ahead, was the spirit of gamesmanship fostered through athletic competition at the games, according to Sgt. Shamus M. Flynn, wrecker operator chief, maintenance detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU.
“(Summer Slam 2008) was a good time. It gave the participants an alternative to spending money out in town,” said Flynn. “We got to meet people from other units in the MEU.”
Singapore, with its varied cultures and historic past, is a tourists’ delight. And though the sportsmen certainly got to see the sights, they still saw the value of giving up a portion of their liberty to make Summer Slam 2008 a reality, according to Flynn, a native of Granby, Conn.
“Even though some of the teams were thrown together with little time to practice, everyone wanted to play and everyone had some skill,” said Flynn. “It also gave us a chance to (exercise) outside the gym on ship or running on the flight deck.”
Summer Slam 2008, organized and run by 15th MEU Marines, took shape in the weeks spent at sea between Hawaii and Singapore. The arrangements for the event involved a great deal of coordination which made Summer Slam 2008 run smoothly, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael L. Cerda, Chemical, Biological, Nuclear Defense Chief, 15th MEU.
“The entire event was command driven, with some help from my fellow Marines on board (USS) Peleliu and some quick expediting ashore,” said Cerda, a native of Las Vegas. “While ashore with the advance party, I was able to arrange for T-shirts to be made for the participants as well as trophies, drinks and snacks. Down the line this paid huge dividends.”
Despite the relatively short amount of time to lay the groundwork for the event, Summer Slam 2008 proved a highlight of visiting Singapore among its participants, according to Cerda. This came as no surprise to the Marines who organized Summer Slam 2008.
“Participation was descent when you factor in (Singapore) being a liberty port, but more important were the Marines and sailors reactions to how much fun they had running around playing soccer, hitting the ball, or sinking a 3-pointer,” Cerda said “I had numerous Marines tell me ‘I had more fun at Summer Slam than I did the whole liberty trip’ (and) that meant a lot to me.”
Aside from the trophies and accolades of those who participated, the event gave participants a chance to meet people they might not have otherwise met and work with them toward a common objective. The goal of Summer Slam 2008, according to Cpl. Mauricio Loucel, a motor transportation Marine with the Unit Movement Control Center of CLB-15, is to raise the level of athletic achievement aboard USS Peleliu.
“Being a Marine, you’re always competitive and you pride yourself at being the best. So you always want to set that bar. Winning the soccer tournament proves that we’re the best soccer team (aboard USS Peleliu),” said Loucel, who is on his second deployment with the 15th MEU.
The tournament also gave the participants a taste of home, even on the opposite side of the world from the United States, according to Loucel, a native of Riverside, Calif.
“I grew up playing soccer my whole life. My dad trained me since I was a little kid, and my whole life that’s what fascinated me,” Loucel said. “(Sports) keep you in shape and keep your mind off being away from home.”
The Camp Pendleton, Calif.- based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors and is a forward deployed force of readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and a wide range of amphibious missions. The 15th MEU is currently deployed aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).