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Coach Auburne Edwards, surrounded by his Foster Bulldogs players, holds the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League’s Torii Bowl trophy that his team won on Aug. 29.

Coach Auburne Edwards, surrounded by his Foster Bulldogs players, holds the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League’s Torii Bowl trophy that his team won on Aug. 29. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Jan. 19 — Lia Gainey and Denise Juzang, a pair of dependent spouses, played key roles as the Yokota Warriors won their first title in the 15th Martin Luther King Invitational Basketball Tournament, dethroning defending champion Camp Casey/Area I of South Korea 73-48. Juzang, who played four seasons at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas, scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half and Gainey, named the tournament MVP, got 16 of her 22 after halftime. On the men’s side, All-Armed Forces veterans Billy Shanks and Jelani Nix helped the Okinawa Bomb Squad survive Yokota 92-88, as Shanks hit six three-pointers and finished with 20 points. Nix had 12 of his 16 in the second half.

March 23 — Disciple defeats mentor. Dietrick Glover and the Hickam Air Force Base Flyers beat Osan Air Base, South Korea, coached by Tony Jones, 78-67 in the finals of the March Madness Pacific Regional Basketball Tournament at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base. Glover was Jones’ assistant in the early 2000s. On the women’s side, the Okinawa Mystics, returning after a one-year hiatus, routed host Andersen 82-59 behind the play of Brittany Blessard, Andrea Nix and Angela Hampton.

May 17 — Air Force and Navy repeated their men’s and women’s titles in the All-Armed Forces Basketball Tournaments at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn. The Air Force men went 6-0 in the tournament, while the women sailors posted a 5-1 mark. Camp Stanley’s Bret Thomas of South Korea was selected to the All-Armed Forces men’s team, the only Pacific-based player accorded such an honor. Jelani Nix, a Marine based on Okinawa, was named to the All-Tournament team.

May 25 — After years of heartbreak and disappointing finishes, American Legion and Lady Guzzlers ruled the day in the 19th Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament. Four-time All-Air Force outfielder Chadd Malin homered and drove in four runs and the top three in the batting order went 10-for-14 with eight RBIs as Legion, which repeatedly came up short after winning in 2003, dethroned five-time men’s champion International Guzzlers 16-13. All-American shortstop Leticia Pacheco tripled and scored on three-time All-Air Force catcher JoJo Dancer’s sacrifice fly to left as the Guzzlers, losers in two-game championships the last two years, edged Red Fox, a Korean team, 5-4.

June 30 — Lindsay Bengard of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and Clarence Hucks and Aaron Lacar of Yokota Air Base, Japan, helped represent Team USA in the International Military Sports Council (CISM) volleyball championships. The women placed fourth among six teams and the men eighth among 10. Three weeks earlier, Navy edged out the Air Force women in a tiebreaker, while the Air Force men soared to the title in the All-Armed Forces tournament at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

July 5 — They watched and suffered a year ago, Okinawa’s American Legion men and Yard Busters women, as Korea-based teams hauled off the championship hardware. But on this day, neither team left anything to chance, posting resounding, one-sided victories and making the 2009 Firecracker Shootout Interservice Softball Tournament a sweep dream for Okinawa. Robert Gullett belted two home runs and drove in five runs as Legion pounded Camp Humphreys of South Korea 22-5. Meanwhile, women’s most valuable player Brandi Kirkpatrick went 5-for-8 and drove in two runs for Yard Busters, who needed two victories over Okinawa’s Pitchslap, 11-0 and 10-3, to capture the championship. It was the first Pacific Grand Slam tournament title for Yard Busters, who have taken second place four other times, including last year’s Firecracker tournament. Legion captured its 11th championship, second to now-defunct Pacific Force’s all-time record of 39. Legion lost a two-game final to Osan Air Base in last year’s championship round.

Aug. 29 — For the first time in the league’s 10-year history, the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League Torii Bowl title ventured south to Okinawa. Tim Craig scored a safety and added 2½ sacks and the Foster Bulldogs defense forced eight sacks and eight turnovers to pace a 30-6 romp over three-time Torii Bowl runner-up Yokota at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium.

Sept. 25 — Behind seven-time All-Air Force player Chris Markey of Osan Air Base, South Korea, the Air Force men dethroned two-time champion Army in the All-Armed Forces men’s softball tournament but by a slim margin; Air Force and Army went 7-2, but Air Force won out for having beaten Army two of the three times they played. Elmer Mason of Yongsan Garrison and Markey each were named to the All-Armed Forces team.

Dec. 5 — Bret Thomas, a staff sergeant based at South Korea’s Camp Stanley, helped the U.S. team to a third-place finish in the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe men’s basketball tournament at Mons, Belgium. The Americans won four of their five games, coming within a 96-90 loss in pool play to Greece of playing for the title against eventual champion Lithuania. The Americans beat France 107-62 in the bronze-medal game. Six months earlier, Thomas played for the American team which finished finished with the same result, taking third in the International Military Sports Council (CISM) championship at Klaipeda, Lithuania, by beating Kazakhstan 97-90 in the bronze-medal game.

Dec. 12 — For the first time in six years, Navy won during the annual Army-Navy flag-football game series, played hours before the annual Army-Navy service academy game in Philadelphia. Navy won three of the four games played, 38-6 on Guam, 16-14 in Korea and 14-13 in Japan. Only on Okinawa did the soldiers prevail, 40-35 in the third-highest scoring game in the 19-year series.


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