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Thousands of miles from Baltimore, where the 108th Army-Navy game will be played Saturday, soldiers and sailors in the Pacific will battle it out in rivalry flag football games of their own.

Four games are on tap Saturday, at South Korea’s Yongsan Garrison, Camp Zama in Japan, Torii Station on Okinawa and Naval Base Guam. At all four locales, pomp, pageantry and plenty of collar brass are expected to play a part, along with hard-fought gridiron action.

“It’s a big morale booster,” said Bennie Jackson, Area II sports director at Yongsan.

While they’re rivals on the field, “at the end of the game, both sides realize they’re out there doing the same thing, defending the country,” Jackson said.

That’s not to say the run-up to the games wasn’t without the high jinks and pranks associated with high school homecoming games.

The 296th Army Band from Camp Zama on Friday bused from Torii Station to Kadena Air Base to stage what it termed a “surprise attack,” playing fight songs and marches at Navy Fleet Activities Okinawa headquarters.

Pep rallies were held in advance of the South Korea game on Friday night — the Army’s on Yongsan South Post and the Navy’s at Field 4 on Camp Coiner. Banners around the base on Friday touted the standard “Go Army-Beat Navy” slogans.

The reverse was true on Thursday on Guam, when a band of Navy “marauders” commandeered a vessel under the flag of the Guam Army National Guard commander at Sumay Cove Marina on the Navy base.

The vessel’s sails were replaced with sheets reading “Go Navy-Beat Army again.”

The nonhostile action was described by the sailors as a “spirited attempt to support an invaluable historic rivalry” in concert with the military academy clash, a Navy release stated.

Blue Jacket Field will host the Guam game, with kickoff scheduled for noon.

Some 2,000 fans are expected at Torii Field, where Army will seek its fourth straight win and eighth in nine years. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Army beat Navy 49-28 last year in the series’ second-highest-scoring game.

In South Korea, Army will chase its 10th victory in the 12-year history of the Peninsula Trophy series, with kickoff scheduled for 10 a.m. at Seoul American High School Falcon Field on Yongsan’s South Post. Army blanked Navy 28-0 last year.

Camp Zama’s Trojans Field at Zama American High School hosts the Japan rivalry game, with kickoff at 11 a.m. Navy shut out Army 18-0 last year at Yokosuka Naval Base.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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