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Servicemembers show off strength during Scottish games on Okinawa

By JESSICA BIDWELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 20, 2017

OKINAWA, Japan — Gaelic revelry flooded an Okinawa beach over the weekend during the inaugural Torii Station Highland Games.

The Morale, Welfare and Recreation-hosted event featured Celtic cultural staples such as Scotch eggs, bagpipe music and unorthodox athletic competitions featuring kilt-wearing servicemembers and civilians.

Events included the shot put-like stone put, hammer throw and caber toss, in which competitors flip a long, tapered pole.

Army veteran Aaron Rennie came up with the idea for bringing the games to Okinawa, but credited MWR with organizing the event.

“What a great turnout,” he said, as festivities went on nearby. “A lot of these guys are first-timers, some civilians, but most are military.”

Competition was fierce and involved some impressive displays of brute strength.

“Camaraderie. That’s what motivated me [to attend the event],” said competitor Lauryn Burleson. “I wasn’t into it at first, but today has surpassed my expectations.”

bidwell.jessica@stripes.com

A competitor prepares for the stone put event during the Torii Station Highland Games in Okinawa, Japan, Saturday, March 18, 2017.
JESSICA BIDWELL/STARS AND STRIPE

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