Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

September 15, 2017 at 10:33am

Common Travel Problems and How to Deal with Them

Holidays are supposed to be the most stress-free time of our lives. However, they can end up causing quite a bit of trouble from dealing with luggage to ending up in a horrible hotel. So, what can you do?

Here are some of the most common travel problems and tips on how to deal with them without losing sleep – or your mind.

Overbooked or cancelled flights

Airlines are notorious for overbooking flights due to no-shows. You really want to avoid having to deal with this problem by showing at the airport as early as possible.

If you’re not in hurry or travelling for business reasons, you might want to volunteer to travel on the next flight. Airlines often compensate volunteers well – you might even turn the holiday into a budget holiday this way. So, be open for the idea!

On the other hand, if your flight is cancelled, do seek for compensation. In Europe, airlines must give up to €600 in compensation if the flight is cancelled or delayed for over three hours. You should give your details to the airline and seek for food and drink vouchers – airlines must even help you find accommodation if the holdup is lengthy.

Getting through the airport security in style

You don’t want to spend a huge amount of time in the security queue at the airport. The easiest way to avoid having to unpack everything is to make sure you pack the hand luggage right at home.

Do remember to leave liquids away from the hand luggage. If you need any cosmetics or other such liquids, place them in a resalable plastic bag. Note that the container cannot exceed 100ml and you can’t have more than a litre with you. Don’t take sharp objects with you – however, nail scissors and knitting needles are fine. If you smoke, you can only have one lighter with you.

Keep the plastic bags at the top of the bag, so you can easily take them out at the security. Before you walk through the gate, remove your belt and any jewellery you might have. You should also take off your jacket and any scarfs you might be wearing.

Lost luggage

Before you start checking in luggage, think whether you could simply travel with a carry-on. You can find that the carry-on luggage sizes are rather generous and you might avoid the annoyance of waiting for luggage at your destination by travelling light.

Of course, this is not always possible. When you notice your luggage is lost, contact the airline immediately and give them details for sending it to you. You can claim through the airline although claiming through your travel insurance is often much faster – therefore, remember to have a good travel insurance in place!

Bad accommodation

The easiest way to avoid accommodation problems is to do your research. Read hotel reviews and check out travel portal websites and the hotel’s own website to find out more. Keep in mind the location as well – you can sometimes spot a bad hotel simply by noticing the neighbourhood it is in.

Be clever when booking accommodation. For example, if you follow the link, you could enjoy discounts on four or five-star hotels without paying the full price: Chain hotels might seem boring or expensive, but they can sometimes be a safe choice for a holiday. Not to mention, big hotels often run membership campaigns that could help you save money.

If you are just staying at the hotel for one night and you arrive after 6pm, you might ask for a free upgrade. Hotels are more than happy to satisfy your needs and could be willing to provide you with a better experience.

Spending too much

Most people also end up spending too much money at the destination. You might have been smart when booking the holiday but suddenly all caution goes out the window when you are finally there.

It’s important to have a travel budget – you could spread your cash to as many envelopes as you are planning to stay at your destination. This means you only spend the allocated amount of money.

Getting sick

Of course, the most annoying and rather common travel problem is to fall ill. Long flights, new climate and different food can all cause troubles. The key is to dress appropriately – remember that the airplanes are colder than the sunny beach you are travelling to.

You should also be prepared in terms of medicine. Pack basic painkillers and stomach relief pills with you. Lacto bacteria pills are good for avoiding stomach bugs from new food. Remember to rest and listen to your body. A little nap might help you avoid getting too sick.

If you start feeling horrible and symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting doesn’t stop within 48 hours, consult a doctor. Your accommodation should have more information on where to seek medical assistance – you can also check with your travel insurance provider.

The above travel problems are all too common. However, you can avoid them with proper preparation. In the end, travelling is about staying positive and being aware that the unexpected might happen!


September 15, 2017 at 7:02am

McChord residents treated to free food, games

1st Lt. Darryl Holland, middle, of 42nd Military Police Brigade, helps Rylee Gillespie, 6, of JBLM, adjust the spotlight in his patrol car during the McChord Field Housing Block Party at Carter Lake Elementary School Saturday. JBLM PAO photo

Free food, games, raffles and fellowship were the theme of the day Saturday as a few hundred service members and their families enjoyed the second annual McChord Field Housing Block Party at Carter Lake Elementary School.

Many parents and children walked, rode bicycles, skateboarded or pushed strollers to the neighborhood event aimed at enhanced family readiness, spiritual resiliency and community bonding. The event was sponsored by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Religious Support Office and the McChord Field Chapel.

“Free food is always good when you’ve got four kids,” said Maj. David Thompson, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, as his children, Simon, 9; Emi, 6; Cece, 8; and Mary, 3, chomped on hotdogs and chips before participating in organized games at the event.

The three older children took turns inside large plastic, inflated Zorb balls, which look much like a hamster ball. Mary stayed close to grandparents, Dave and Lois Thompson, of St. Louis, Mo., who were in town for the week visiting four of their 18 grandchildren.

“It’s nice they have events like this,” Lois said.

The Thompson children are home-schooled, so the block party was a good opportunity for the kids to play and get to know their neighbors.

“I’ve seen seven or eight families from our neighborhood,” David Thompson said.

April Johns and her 7-year-old daughter, Isabella, 10-year-old son, Jack, and husband, Staff Sgt. Trevor Johns, moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in the middle of August.

Johns said her family was a bit stressed moving and getting the kids ready for the start of the school year at Carter Lake Elementary, so the block party offered a way to relax and get to know other military families.

Isabella enjoyed creating crafts at the event, such as a stuffed bear she drew a face for. She added premade eyes and buttons for his shirt before adding his name “Ed” on a small purse, which she also decorated.

“I painted a rock, too, and rode in the plastic ball,” Isabella said, a big smile on her face. “I’m having fun.”

Shelton Griffin, a volunteer with McChord Field Chapel, and his wife, 1st Sgt. Adriana Griffin, 361st Recruiting Squadron, spent much of the three-hour event helping young children use the Zorb balls — one of the event’s most popular activities.

“You have to stand up and put your arms through here,” Griffin told 6-year-old, Gustavo Diaz, as the youth readied to play in the Zorb.

Gustavo’s mom, military spouse, Tasha Morales, helped push her son’s Zorb as the boy laughed and ran toward another of the about a dozen balls. Gustavo is a home-schooled first-grader and has a 5-year-old brother, Emmanuel, who also enjoyed the block party with their mom.

“It’s fun for the kids, and they get to meet and make new friends,” Morales said. “We really had a lot of fun.”

September 15, 2017 at 7:01am

Veterans begin 4,600-mile cycling journey from Seattle

Paragon Media Andrew Quamme rides through the streets of Lakewood as part of the Old Glory Relay Tuesday. The relay is part of a 4,600-mile relay from Seattle to Tampa, Fla.

SEATTLE — The fourth iteration of Team Red, White and Blue’s Old Glory Relay started at sunrise Monday morning at CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle.

Monday, the 16th anniversary of 9-11, marked the start of a cross-country journey that will feature hundreds of veterans participating from all branches and eras of service.

More than 70 teams, which include veterans and their supporters, will carry a single American flag over 4,600 miles in 62 days from Seattle to Tampa, Fla. Since leaving Monday through Veterans Day, the teams will be running, walking and cycling with an American flag across each leg of the relay in their mission to bring the flag home to Team RWB’s national headquarters in Florida.

Special guests at the start in Seattle included:

• Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates,

• Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks,

• Seattle Sounders FC retired players Zach Scott and Marcus Hahnemann,

• J.J. Pinter, executive director of Team RWB,

• Brennan Mullaney, deputy director of Team RWB.

“We are beyond excited to start the Old Glory Relay, which is an important national event for the Team Red, White and Blue community,” Pinter said. “It’s the fourth time we’re crossing the country, and it just gets better every time thanks to the amazing group of veterans, supporters, sponsors and communities engaged along the course. This journey aims to send a message that our country is stronger and better when we’re unified, connected and helping veterans transition for success.”

The Old Glory Relay is a one-of-a-kind experience filled with unity, patriotism and pride as teams safely complete their assigned daily relay legs between the times of sunrise and sunset. Following the kickoff in Seattle, Old Glory moved south to Lakewood where the route will take them along the West Coast through the Cascade Range before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco.

Continuing south, Old Glory will connect Team RWB Eagles and supporters in Los Angeles and San Diego before heading eastward through the desert landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico and crossing San Antonio and Houston.

For the final stretch, the relay will cross the Florida Panhandle before finishing in Tampa, home of Team Red, White and Blue’s National Firebase, with a fitting retreat celebration at the Westfield Brandon mall.

For more information and to access the full list of cities, visit

September 14, 2017 at 1:51pm

Ruck for life road march

Soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) carry a stretcher laden with weight they collected along their ruck for life road march, Sept. 8, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Adam Munoz

The air was dense with a hazy smoke and vehicles were dusted in a light chalky ash from nearby forest fires when nearly 75 soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) began their road march for life with empty rucksacks.

In keeping with the Army's suicide prevention theme for the month of September, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st SFG (A), participated in a ruck for life road march, Sept. 8, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to bring awareness for the value of life and promote resiliency within its organization.

"We wanted to do something different than what has become the typical PowerPoint lecture on suicide prevention," said Staff Sgt. Apollo Stoewer, the HHC, 1st SFG (A)'s religious affairs specialist. "This gives us the chance to celebrate life's challenges and recognize the need for resilience."

After the first mile, soldiers placed a sandbag in their previously empty packs as the chaplain explained the symbolism of the weight all servicemembers carry on their backs; that all pick up burdens along life's path.

Shouldering the now heavier packs, the soldiers carried their new burden another mile where they added yet another sandbag to their load. Stepping off with packs weighing close to 50 pounds, the soldiers' spirits were high and everyone was determined to finish.

"This is great; I see what the chaplain did here," said Spc. Joseph Monreal, a HHC, 1st SFG (A) human resources specialist. I'd much rather do this than sit through another PowerPoint class."

"Soldiers and their leaders appreciate something a little more out of the box," said Chaplain (Maj.) Chris Rusack. "We designed this type of event to engage on a whole different level."

"Nothing reinforces a positive message better than some good physical exertion and even a little pain," Rusack said. "It's not something they're likely to soon forget."

As the soldiers marched through mile three they loaded prepositioned stretchers with their collected weights and shared carrying their burdens. Rusack explained that some burdens should not be carried alone and can be made easier when shared with others.

"Bringing everyone together and working as a team and supporting each other is how we get through tough events in life; you can't do it alone," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Avila, a supply specialist with HHC, 1st SFG (A).

The soldiers and many family members gathered for a free barbecue after the road march.

Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, the 1st SFG (A) commander, thanked the soldiers for their recent hard work and congratulated them on their innovative approach to completing the required training.

The commander spoke about the relationship between resilience to readiness.

"Our job is a tough one," said Beaurpere. "I need all of you mentally and physically sound to meet the demands of protecting our country."

September 14, 2017 at 12:31pm

Soldiers conduct EDRE from Tacoma to San Diego

The call could come at any time and the soldiers of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, must be ready and willing to pick up the phone, even if that means transporting an entire brigade's motor pool from the Port of Tacoma to the beaches of sunny San Diego.

In preparation for their annual training at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California, 2-2 SBCT conducted an emergency deployment readiness exercise beginning in the early hours of Aug. 13 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The EDRE was designed to test the unit's ability to rapidly deploy their forces to the theater of engagement at very short notice.

Equipment was transported from JBLM via Interstate 5 to the Port of Tacoma.

"It allows us to exercise our muscles to understand where we might fall short and making sure that we're ready in case we are called to go to combat," said Capt. Edward Miller, the officer in charge of movement operations for 2-2 SBCT. "A big part of this is being able to visualize and understand how everything moves."

Seeing military vehicles sharing their morning commute on I-5, a highway notorious for its traffic congestion, might be disconcerting for residents of the Pacific Northwest, but the exercise allows the Army to practice readiness not only for combat, but for natural disasters as well.

"It's always good to be prepared for anything of that nature," said Damon Poulin, the security manager for the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. "I'm retired military and I remember from back when I was a young pup, that every combat unit has a mission essential task list that needs to be performed and the first mission was always to deploy the force because if you can't get the forces to the fight, you've already lost."

More than 1,900 moving pieces, including containers and Strykers, were scheduled for transport by ship to the port of San Diego.

The key to a successful operation during an exercise of this magnitude is to be able to think on your feet because, Poulin said, anything that can go wrong, will.

"Murphy is always out there looking to do something," Poulin continued. "A unit could have everything prepared properly when they leave home station but things always happen in transit. Vehicles decide they don't want to run anymore or documentations blows out the window. There's a lot of deliberate planning that goes into an event like this and you've got to be prepared for anything."

Practicing exercises of this scale helps to minimize potential disruptions in the event of an actual emergency.

"The concept of putting an entire brigade's motor pool into this small of an area gets very challenging, too," said Miller. "Understanding how everything fits in together and being able to operate here has really opened up my eyes in a sense of what it really takes to move a brigade just to San Diego, let alone across an entire ocean."

September 14, 2017 at 12:26pm

Army scientists discover power in urine

Army researcher Anthony J. Roberts adds one gram of aluminum nano powder to urine to release hydrogen from a chemical reaction. Photo credit: David McNally

Scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory observed an unexpected result when combining urine with a newly engineered nano-powder based on aluminum. It instantly releases hydrogen from the urine at a much higher rate than with ordinary water.

The research team announced earlier this summer that a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder they were developing produced pure hydrogen when coming into contact with water. The researchers observed a similar reaction when adding their powder to any liquid containing water.

"What we do as Army scientists is develop materials and technology that will directly benefit the soldier and enhance their capabilities," said Dr. Kristopher Darling, an ARL researcher. "We developed a new processing technique to synthesize a material, which spontaneously splits water into hydrogen."

Hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, has the potential to power fuel cells and provide energy to future soldiers.

Fuel cells generate electricity quietly, efficiently and without pollution. According to a Department of Energy's website, fuel cells are "more energy-efficient than combustion engines and the hydrogen used to power them can come from a variety of sources."

"We have calculated that one kilogram of aluminum powder can produce 220 kilowatts of energy in just three minutes," said Dr. Anit Giri, also an ARL researcher.

In space, astronauts recycle waste water and urine because drinking water is a precious commodity. For soldiers in austere environments, there are many precious commodities. Power and energy is becoming increasingly important to run communications and electronics gear for away teams, which can't be resupplied.

Making use of urine as a fuel source may result in tremendous benefits for soldiers, officials said.

"When we demonstrated it with urine, we saw almost a factor of twofold increase in the reaction rates," Darling said. "We were very excited. As a group we have been pushing for the last few months on developing the efficiency and the reaction kinetics to try to get them faster."

The team is still investigating why urine causes a faster reaction, but it may have something to do with the electrolytes and the acidity of the liquid.

"It's unique because the rate of the reaction is so efficient and extremely rapid from such a small volume of material," Darling said.

The team is working closely with other researchers at the laboratory, including the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, to discover how to harness the material as a potential energy source.

"It was a spontaneous finding," Darling said. "We weren't expecting to develop this material specifically for hydrogen production. It was a group effort. We came together as a team to understand the importance of the discovery. This has great potential for benefiting soldiers."

In a statement, Dr. Philip Perconti, the laboratory director, said the discovery "may find great utility for forward deployed troops who need a compact and lightweight energy source."

In the coming months, the team will continue to investigate and push the limits of the discovery, to try and understand its implications.

"Our basic focus is materials development and optimization," Darling said. "We're looking at how we can optimize the composition, its interactions with other fluids, including saliva and other liquids available to soldiers in a field environment."

September 14, 2017 at 12:01pm

WA cyber going national?

Benjamin Beberness, the chief information officer for the Snohomish County PUD, speaks with Col. Gent Welsh & Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty in April. Photo courtesy Washington National Guard

New, bipartisan legislation named for the late Major Gen. Tim Lowenberg would build upon the success of the Washington National Guard's cyber units and create dedicated units around the country to help states counter cyber-attacks.

The legislation is sponsored by Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA), who has seen the Washington National Guard's cyber work in action, as well as Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS). As of Sept. 8, the legislation had been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

"States need reinforcements in the fight against cyber attacks," Kilmer said in his release announcing the proposal. "They currently face a gap when it comes to protecting their communities from hackers and other cyber criminals. Local national guard personnel have the right expertise to make sure states like Washington have the tools to fight back."

Washington National Guard's cybersecurity units have become leaders in the nation, forging relationships with private industry and local partners, and tasked with finding vulnerabilities in public networks. The soldiers in the units became the first in the nation to see if they could get into the network of a public utility when the Snohomish County Public Utility District asked for help. It only took 17 minutes to break into the Snohomish PUD's system. After, the Guard worked with the PUD to improve its security.

The Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg National Guard Cyber Defenders Act would create Cyber Civil Support Teams (Cyber CST) through the National Guard to coordinate responses to significant cyber-attacks in their state. These teams would have to be up and running within five years of the law's passage. The National Guard Bureau would submit a report to Congress outlining the plan to meet this deadline and work with the Council of Governors to establish when the teams would be used.

"Never before in history has there been such a tremendous gap between our awareness of a threat -- cyber and our lack of ability to do anything about it -- response force," said Col. Gent Welsh, commander of the Washington Air National Guard's 194th Wing. "That issue is solved with this legislation.   These teams will be the ‘connective tissue' that bring government and critical infrastructure providers together to help defeat those who are attacking America now with keystrokes, not bombs or bullets."

Cyber Civil Support Teams are proposed to be 10 members, half made up of full-time personnel and the other made up of traditional guardsmen, who likely work in a technology sector as a civilian. The teams would provide the connective tissue between local municipalities and private sector with national response infrastructures and agencies through regular exercises and outreach activities. The teams fulfill a two-fold mission encompassing cyber incident response and continual defensive cyber training.

The Guard also has worked with the Washington State Auditor's Office, the state Department of Licensing and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, among others, to test for vulnerabilities.

The new congressional legislation would be named for the late Maj. Gen. Lowenberg, who unexpectedly died Aug. 27. Lowenberg was the former adjutant general of the Washington Military Department and commander of the Washington National Guard and a major advocate for building cyber capability for the state and nation.

September 14, 2017 at 7:17am

Walk in county's largest breast cancer walk

Come Walk With Me is Pierce County's largest breast cancer walk hosted by Multi Care Health Systems - it begins and ends at Sumner's own Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse located at 13608 Valley Avenue East. Join Multi and walk for the women and men in your life battling breast cancer. Register, form a team, join a team, or make a donation to support breast health programs at Good Samaritan Hospital. 

Registration Fees

Early Bird - $25

Through July 31
Ages 13+ 

Online Registration - $30

August 1 through October 4
Ages 13+ 
*Online registration closes on October 4 

Event-Day Registration - $35

October 5 at Packet Pickup or October 7 at the event
Ages 13+

Youth Registration - $10

Ages 5-12

Children 4 & Under are FREE

T-shirt not included

*Please note that the Motorcycle Poker Run has been cancelled for 2017. 

Event Schedule

7:30 am - Registration, T-Shirt Pick-Up, & Hot Pancake Breakfast Open
8:30 am - Free Kids' 50-Yard Dash Begins
8:45 am - Program Begins
9:00 am - 5K Walk Begins
10:30 am - Silent Auction Closes & Bedazzled Bra / Pink'd Awards Announced

Skip the lines on Saturday morning, and join us at Pre-Event Packet Pickup on Thursday, October 5 from 3:00-7:00 pm at The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse!


100% of donor contributions to Come Walk With Me support breast health programs at Good Samaritan Hospital (we keep it local!). Click here to learn about some great fundraising tips, tricks, and rewards.

For more information about fundraising or about Come Walk With Me, please contact Michelle LoFaso at 253-403-4374 or


Come Walk With Me is powered by the support of incredible volunteers throughout the community. Interested in volunteering? Click here to see jobs and descriptions and then follow the steps below. 

I want to apply! If you have never applied to volunteer at Multicare, start here

I've already applied and I'm ready to sign-up! Login to the Volunteer Services Center, click My Schedule, go to October 2017, and click the date you wish you volunteer and select your position.

Have questions or need help signing up? Check out this step-by-step guide or email

Partner with Us

Partnering with Come Walk With Me will not only allow you to support breast cancer patients at Good Samaritan Hospital, but will provide your company with brand exposure to hundreds within our community. Download our Sponsorship Opportunities to see what's available. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Shawn Harris at 253-403-1368 or


September 12, 2017 at 6:11am

Flea Market and Oktoberfest Saturday on base

Rob Braholli, left, and his wife Megan enjoy a plate of jaegerschnitzel and sauerkraut with a stein of beer during the 2016 JBLM Oktoberfest celebration at Family and MWR’s Fest Tent on Lewis Main. JBLM PAO photo

Two popular Joint Base Lewis-McChord events are combining this year for a day of fun and all things recycled — or German.

The installation’s successful Fall Flea Market and Oktoberfest joins at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Fest Tent on Lewis Main Sept. 16 for what’s expected to be an incredible day of deals, bratwurst, German potato salad, apple strudel, German beer and jaegerschnitzel — a flattened and fried pork cutlet with mushroom sauce.

The event will be at the tent next to Bowl Arena Lanes, 2200 Liggett Ave. on Lewis Main — with the flea market from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Oktoberfest event overlapping slightly, from 2 to 10 p.m.

The Fall Flea Market will be outdoors, under small tents, while Oktoberfest will be inside Family and MWR’s Fest Tent.

The combined event is a way to get more flea market buyers and sellers involved in Oktoberfest and more Oktoberfest attendees excited about the flea market, according to Megan Braholli, recreation specialist with Family and MWR.

“We have a lot of great events on base, but Oktoberfest is my favorite,” Braholli said. “What isn’t there to love about Germany?”

Braholli and her husband, Sgt. Robert Braholli, 508th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, moved to JBLM last year from Germany where Braholli was stationed for the past five years.

The couple hails from Canton, Ohio, originally, but Germany is home, she said, adding she cooks many traditional German dishes, but enjoys going to Oktoberfest because of the German community atmosphere.

“Oktoberfest is one of many German celebrations that go on all year long in Germany; I love all the festivals,” she said. “If it’s summertime there’s a celebration; if the leaves are changing it’s time to celebrate. Anything brings on a celebration and lots of food — simple but good.”

Bounce houses, food vendors, games and a rock climbing wall will be available.

As for the flea market, Braholli won’t be selling any items, but she just might find time to peruse the many tables of treasures.

And, there’s still time to sign up to sell items. It’s $26 to rent two 6-foot long tables to sell gently used items and $30 for three tables. Additional tables are available for $6 per table. Participants must be authorized Department of Defense ID cardholders to purchase space to sell items.

September 12, 2017 at 6:09am

22nd STS wins JBLM Commander’s Cup Softball Championship

Brandon Simpson of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron aims for contact during a first inning where his team had six runs on eight hits. JBLM PAO photo

Keyton Thiem might not have been the exact description of a walk-off winner with a three-run home run during the JBLM Commander’s Cup Softball Championship, but was the final hit that forced a fifth-inning, 10-run mercy rule to give the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron a 17-6 win over Maintenance Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at the Lewis North Athletic Complex Aug. 31.

“I felt selfish because I took the bats out of my teammates’ hands,” Thiem said with a laugh after the game.

The 22nd STS lineup saw just about every player who stepped up to the plate drive in a run. In addition to the team hitting three home runs, there were several well-hit balls that bounced off the outfield fence or made it hard on the 1st SFG fielders to play defense.

The first inning saw everyone in the 11-man lineup have an at-bat, starting with a double by Thiem. This was followed by a RBI double from Kyle Plasterer and a RBI single from Mike Charvat. James English had a two-run home runs before the first out was recorded.

Runs driven in by Chad Rosendale and Austin Osburn rounded out a first inning with six runs for 22nd STS. The team added another five runs in the second inning that Plasterer hit a two-run home run.

“They have some great hitters,” said Robert Straughn, player coach for the 1st SFG team. “All you can do is pitch and play defense, but we didn’t really have any good batting either.”

The 1st SFG struggled to get hits with runners in scoring position in the first two innings. After singles from Maximiliano Gonzalez and James Pierce, Michael Lockridge and Robert Straughn could not convert with a flyout and groundball fielder’s choice out to close the inning.

Nicholas Marban got the first run with a sacrifice groundout that followed Alexander Woodruff’s leadoff triple in the second inning. Neither Ahmad Strickland or Samuel Conwright could get on after a single from Anacleto Zamora.

The 1st SFG team started to show life in the fifth inning with Pierce drawing a bases-loaded walk, followed by Lockridge’s single driving in two runs. The 22nd STS was able to close out the game in the fifth after back-to-back RBI singles from Osburn and Jacob Sikovic and Thiem’s three-run walk-off homer.

Powerful offense has been a trend for the 22nd STS team as it was undefeated in the regular season and through the playoffs to win the JBLM Commander’s Cup softball title. Power batting maintained despite the team having a revolving door due to a very grueling schedule linked and the demands of a pending deployment.

“Some players were here one week; others were here another week,” said Joe Fernandez, the team captain and coach. “Some guys missed anywhere from one to four weeks due to training.”

Even with some weeks where the team barely made the minimum of 10 players for games, Fernandez credited not only the 22nd STS team’s communication skills, but also their commitment throughout a challenging softball season.

“Even when they are home, they sacrificed time with their family and good friends, and well deserved time off, to showcase their talents,” Fernandez said.

It was also a special day for the 22nd STS’ Erin Bowser, who was just pinned to become a chief master sergeant in the Air Force. He added that the honor, plus being part of a championship team, was a great way to celebrate and start Labor Day weekend.

“I’ve been here (on JBLM) for six years, and this is the best team I’ve played with,” Bowser said. “It’s all about the camaraderie. You can tell how tight-knit this unit is.”

Scoring summary

1st Special Forces Group 0 1 1 1 3 – 6

22nd Special Tactics Squadron 6 5 0 1 5 – 17

F/5 innings

1st SFG (H-AB-RBI) – Maximiliano Gonzalez, 3-3-0; Michael Correll, 0-2-0; James Pierce, 0-2-2; Michael Lockridge, 1-3-2; Robert Straughn, 0-3-0; Alexander Woodruff, 2-3-0; Nicholas Marban, 0-2-1; Anacleto Zamora, 2-2-1; Ahmad Strickland, 0-2-0; Samuel Conwright, 0-1-0.

22nd STS (H-AB-RBI) – Keyton Thiem, 3-3-3; Kyle Plasterer, 3-3-3; Mike Charvat, 1-3-2; James English, 2-3-2; Joe Fernandez, 2-3-1; Brandon Simpson, 2-3-1; Travis Jordan, 1-3-1; Chad Rosendale, 2-3-2; Jordan Smith, 0-3-0; Austin Osburn, 1-3-1; Jacob Sikovic, 1-3-1.

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