CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Katie Tennessen jumped up and shouted for joy as she watched Ben Roethlisberger’s last-ditch pass attempt go through the hands of Steeler receiver Mike Wallace.
“Awesome,” the Packer fan said Monday during the Camp Zama Community Club’s Super Bowl party, watching the big screen TV as time ran out in Green Bay’s 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
Tennessen was decked out in a pink Packers Brett Favre No. 4 jersey, albeit with a few modifications — gray tape in the shape of No. 12 covered the old number, and another strip with the name of the game’s eventual MVP, Aaron Rodgers, was placed over Favre’s name.
“I’m glad they won it without Favre,” said Tennessen, a civilian assigned to nearby Naval Air Facility Atsugi. “I’m most excited about that he was not there to win it.”
Tennessen was one of thousands on Pacific bases who turned out in the wee hours to cheer on their favorites on what nominally becomes Super Bowl Monday on the other side of the International Dateline.
Base clubs and community centers served up breakfast and tailgate favorites. Big-screen TVs carried all the action and most venues offered free giveaways. And some bases were visited by the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos cheerleaders.
During a day where many commands gave servicemembers time off to view the game, Cheeseheads and Terrible Towels dotted the bases.
Dressed in a Packers bath robe with a plastic block of cheese proudly worn on his head, Tech. Sgt. Richard Stowe Jr. let everyone at Kadena Air Base’s Rocker NCO Club know which team he was rooting for.
“I’m from Richmond, Va., but I always go for the underdog,” he said, hooting and hollering, as time ran out on the Steelers.
With most clubs opening their doors between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. for the Super Bowl, it was the early risers who got the best seats.
“I just wanted to prove that I could be first,” said Zama American Middle School educational technologist Richard Rodgers, who lined up outside the club at 2 a.m.
“It’s such a major sporting event, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to host and we know the troops appreciate it,” said Bob McKeta of Zama’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, which put on the Zama party.
McKeta also said he was grateful for the time the cheerleaders spent performing and signing autographs for the troops.
“They absolutely love giving back to the troops abroad,” said Emily Newton, the Dolphins’ cheerleaders director and herself a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
One of the cheerleaders visiting Zama had family ties to the base.
“Really special,” said Bekah Stevens, whose grandfather served as a military judge at Zama in the 1950s. “When I found out I was coming here, I couldn’t believe it.”
For many, a large part of the Super Bowl experience is watching the commercials. Though AFN is barred from airing them overseas, a few did manage to slip through.
“I think we should be able to see all the commercials,” said Tech. Sgt. Frank Uecker of Yokota Air Base’s 374th Civil Engineer Squadron.
“It’s one of the thrills of watching the Super Bowl,” Tech. Sgt. Adam Smith of 5th Air Force added.
At the end of the day, Cheeseheads smiled while Terrible Towel wavers wept as the Packers carted off their fourth Super Bowl title.
“I can breathe again,” said Atsugi civilian Randy Jacobson as time ran out.
Stars and Stripes reporters Dave Ornauer, Grant Okubo, Nathan Bailey, Matt Orr and Alfredo Jimenez contributed to this story.