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Airman Maurice Reid, left, and Airman Albert Crews celebrate early Monday morning in the mess decks aboard the USS Harry S. Truman as Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl.
Airman Maurice Reid, left, and Airman Albert Crews celebrate early Monday morning in the mess decks aboard the USS Harry S. Truman as Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)
Airman Maurice Reid, left, and Airman Albert Crews celebrate early Monday morning in the mess decks aboard the USS Harry S. Truman as Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl.
Airman Maurice Reid, left, and Airman Albert Crews celebrate early Monday morning in the mess decks aboard the USS Harry S. Truman as Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)
Fireman Frank Hicks cleans up in the galley after serving up food to fellow crewmembers on the USS Harry S. Truman who were watching the Super Bowl. Hicks started working Sunday evening -- his 20th birthday -- until early Monday morning.
Fireman Frank Hicks cleans up in the galley after serving up food to fellow crewmembers on the USS Harry S. Truman who were watching the Super Bowl. Hicks started working Sunday evening -- his 20th birthday -- until early Monday morning. (Kendra Helmer / S&S)

ABOARD THE USS HARRY S TRUMAN — It’s Fireman Frank Hicks’ birthday — Super Bowl Sunday — and the Florida native’s Buccaneers are thrashing the Oakland Raiders.

Just one problem: He’s in the galley, shoveling out food to about 2,000 troops who are staying up late to watch the game.

“It sucks to be working, on my birthday and during the Super Bowl,” said Hicks, who managed to get away a few times to see Tampa Bay triumph 48-21.

As deployed troops watched from remote places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kuwait, the Truman’s sailors hunkered around some of the aircraft carrier’s 2,500 televisions, watching the game from their racks, office spaces and mess decks.

While the officer’s wardroom was deserted a couple of hours after the midnight kickoff (most pilots turning in to rest for morning flights over the Adriatic Sea), elsewhere cheers and groans could be heard until the game ended at 4 a.m.

Some football fans were able to swing later shifts Monday so they could sleep before work.

Sailors in an administrative office were engrossed in a game of dominoes, not exactly riveted by the action on the TV. At least not until a sexily clad Shania Twain performed at halftime.

“Man, that’s the best part of the game,” one sailor said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Terrill Murriel slept all day so he could stay up for the Super Bowl. He shook his head and covered his face as Tampa pummeled Oakland.

“They better pull through. If not, I’ll take my anger out on someone,” he said.

Enter Seaman Leroy Myrick, a Tampa native. “What’s the score like, 20 to 3?” Myrick taunted.

“Man, why you gotta say that?” Murriel said. “You’ll be the one I’m taking my anger all out on.”

Up the passageway on the mess decks, about 50 servicemembers munched hot wings, nachos and chicken tenders. They snagged more food during the breaks, bemoaning the fact that the amusing stateside commercials were replaced by American Forces Network spots warning them not to drink and drive.

Airman Maurice Reid danced around in front of the big-screen TV, bragging about his prediction that the Bucs would prevail.

“In order to back my word up that I know my sports, I’m willing to stay up this late,” he said.

“Game over!” he yelled, slapping hands with Airman Albert Crews, a jubilant Tampa native. Crews said his dad would drag him to Bucs games during some rough seasons.

“Now you can’t even get tickets for a game,” he said. “My dad has probably already e-mailed me about 10 times tonight.”

Crews smiled and said his dad will rush to the post office this week to send him new workout attire: a Super Bowl shirt.

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