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Marine Sgt. Jesse Gonzales, left, takes off from his spinning chair in the Dizzy Izzy race Thursday at Panzer Casern in Boeblingen, Germany, during the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe celebration of the Corps' 230th birthday.
Marine Sgt. Jesse Gonzales, left, takes off from his spinning chair in the Dizzy Izzy race Thursday at Panzer Casern in Boeblingen, Germany, during the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe celebration of the Corps' 230th birthday. (Charlie Coon / S&S)
Marine Sgt. Jesse Gonzales, left, takes off from his spinning chair in the Dizzy Izzy race Thursday at Panzer Casern in Boeblingen, Germany, during the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe celebration of the Corps' 230th birthday.
Marine Sgt. Jesse Gonzales, left, takes off from his spinning chair in the Dizzy Izzy race Thursday at Panzer Casern in Boeblingen, Germany, during the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe celebration of the Corps' 230th birthday. (Charlie Coon / S&S)
Cpl. Paul Mahneke lowers the boom on an opponent during the pugil sticks battle.
Cpl. Paul Mahneke lowers the boom on an opponent during the pugil sticks battle. (Charlie Coon / S&S)

BÖBLINGEN, Germany — A bogus judge. Interference during the Dizzy Izzy race.

Young Marines learned there’s no substitute for cheating, um, experience.

“They had what they called a judge,” Cpl. Brent Baker said. “He was supposed to be nonbiased. But he was the whole reason behind the shenanigans.”

Baker’s team of sergeants-and-below lost five out of seven games to officers and senior noncommissioned officers during a party Thursday to mark the 230th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The results didn’t sit well with the losers.

The senior Marines were insulted by the allegations. Wisdom and experience prevailed, they claimed.

“They can accuse all they want,” Maj. Dave Bernatovich said. “But I don’t think there’s any proof of this cheating.”

What about the tug of war? The rope on the senior guys’ side had handles, while the other side didn’t. And, the junior Marines noted, the older troops possessed more “heft.”

Sour grapes, Bernatovich said.

“We have hundreds of years of cumulative experience,” he said. “They have a lot of enthusiasm. They’ll have their day.”

Regardless, it was a good way to spend this day, the Marines said.

They could forget about filling out paperwork, gathering and analyzing intelligence, and arranging for transportation and supplies, as well as the other jobs performed by Marine Corps Forces Europe, a headquarters unit that coordinates Marines’ movements within the U.S. European Command.

Their party will last through the weekend, highlighted by the Marine Corps ball on Saturday night.

After the games were over, the barbecue grill began sizzling with hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwursts, and chips and cold drinks were ready for consumption.

But the all-American cookout was sullied for some by the lingering charges of skullduggery.

Sure, the old guys won the “Magic Carpet” and “Void” games fair and square. They credited their college educations for producing the brainpower needed to prevail in those events.

But the lower-ranking troops were disqualified, they said, in the three-legged race for supposedly starting a melee. In fact, there was a melee after the Dizzy Izzy race and the Pugil Sticks battle, but no disqualifications resulted.

“No, sir, there was no cheating,” contended Staff Sgt. Nakia Johnson. “We just worked together and overcame what they were doing.”

Sgt. Tony Lovering said that next year maybe military police could be brought in to police the judges, like a second referee in professional wrestling.

In the end, though, he took heart that the younger Marines, second best on this day, were just coming into their prime.

“We do understand these guys are quite a bit older than us,” Lovering said, “and they need something to live for.”

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