Illinois Guard unit shares in Cubs' agony
October 17, 2003
CAMP SCANIA, Iraq — There’s no joy in Wrigleyville. There’s no joy on Camp Scania.
Nearly two dozen soldiers with the Illinois National Guard’s 333rd Military Police Company spent early Thursday morning watching their Chicago Cubs lose to the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the National League championship series.
The loss was a heartbreaking end to one of the team’s best seasons in more than 90 years, one that those at Scania will remember for a long time.
“I’m thrilled they made it so far,” said Master Sgt. Ernie Johnson of Byron, Ill. “But for 50 years of being a Cubs fan I hoped this would be their year.”
Johnson and other MPs from the Freeport, Ill.-based unit watched the game on an American Forces Network satellite broadcast. The unit got their satellite unit at the start of the baseball playoffs.
Soldiers traded barbs as Chicago fell behind 9-5 in the seventh inning, with one soldier prophesying that the Cubs couldn’t win if they were losing by two runs after the fifth inning.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans, on Thursday he was right.
“I’m a White Sox fan but it’s good to see a Chicago team going so far,” said Spc. Tim Wenzel, a company medic from Freeport.
“I may never see this again.”
The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since the end of World War II.
“The Cubs have a lot of the past to overcome,” Wenzel said. “They’ve got to win against themselves before they can win against another team.”
The unit’s members never gave up hope, even those who were not there to watch the game.
Spc. Crystal Ihssen of Dekalb, Ill., was on “radio watch” in the unit’s tactical operations center during the final few innings.
The battalion’s radio watch passed game highlights to her over the field phone, and she would relay it to the unit’s outposts. When the word came across that the Cubs had lost, Ihssen passed the news on.
“I’m glad they went so far,” she said, “but it’s disappointing. The first game was 12-3, I was sure they’d make it through this.”
Spc. Michael Timmons is a transplant to the 333rd from its sister company, the Springfield, Ill.-based 233rd MP Company. He lives closer to St. Louis than Chicago and is a Cardinals fan. But that didn’t affect his desire to see the Cubs win.
“I was strongly hoping for a Cubs-Red Sox World Series,” he said. “I think that would have been good for the game. [Also], I always hope that the Yankees lose.”
Members of the unit have been in Iraq for the entire baseball season, but there’s always next year.