All-night barbecue, breakfast, no booze for deployed 12th Man
By Adam Ashton | The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) | Published: February 1, 2014
Sgt. 1st Class Troy Christy is getting a lot of mileage out of the 12th Man flag he brought on his overseas deployment with the Washington National Guard.
The Puyallup citizen-soldier has been unfurling it for photos all over the Middle East and Central Asia during his Guard unit's travels to meet with foreign militaries.
He's taken it to Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan and another country whose government would prefer not to disclose the presence of American military advisers inside its borders.
Soldiers from these foreign lands line up and hoist the flag for Christy's camera.
"Even the Kyrgyzstan military knows who the best team in the NFL is," jokes Col. Robin Blanchard, who is Christy's commander.
The Seahawks' climb to the Super Bowl has been a fun distraction for about 60 Washington National Guard soldiers serving out of military camps in Kuwait. They say they've missed only one game this season even though kickoff times usually fall in the middle of the night for them.
They like to let other U.S. troops around them know who's on top of the standings.
"The other soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines here all know who the Seahawks fans are. We're the loudest in the country!" said Col. Robert Parrish, who serves in the 96th Military Engagement Team with Blanchard.
Sunday's big game is expected to start about 2:30 a.m. in Kuwait. Blanchard's soldiers are planning an all-night barbecue. They're going to celebrate in their own quarters rather than join some of the larger parties at Camp Arifjan.
"We'll be all together and we'll be all dressed up," said Blanchard, 49, of Lacey.
They've been stashing away salty and sweet treats to make a Super Bowl meal that reminds them of home. They might round out the meal with some of the fast food sold around the large American bases in Kuwait.
They won't be able to indulge in booze, but they'll work with what the Army gives them.
"Near beer will be enjoyed by all!" insisted Capt. Brooke Muhich of the Washington National Guard's 81st Base Defense Operations Center, which is also in Kuwait.
A couple of thousand miles away, another small team of Washington National Guard soldiers at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan is anticipating a 4 a.m. kickoff. They plan to make a big breakfast for their party.
"We probably won't sleep the night before. We're rocking a 12th Man flag in our office," said Capt. Keith Kosik of Tacoma, who's in Afghanistan with the 141st Military History Detachment.
Most of the National Guard soldiers in Kuwait deployed there in August for a nine-month assignment advising foreign militaries in the Middle East.
"It's really a great mission," Blanchard said. "Just think about the opportunity to create relationships that represent the United States. You're like an ambassador."
Back home, she works for the state Department of Health in Olympia. She has three children attending Saint Martin's University and The Evergreen State College.
On game days, she's a Seahawks diehard.
"I'm not one of those regular girls. When you have a Super Bowl party, the girls are in the kitchen," she said. "I've got to be in a position where I can see the game. Don't bug me. Don't mess with me."