Army cruises to flag football victory in Japan
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Army came within a missed extra point of winning its flag-football rivalry game with Navy last year.
Camp Zama soldiers not only avenged that 13-12 loss Saturday, they didn’t allow Naval Air Facility Atsugi sailors a single point this time around.
In what one soldier called a “solid team victory,” Army scored three touchdowns and one two-point conversion - all in the first half - to down blank Navy 20-0 in the 13th installment of a series begun in 2002.
Much like the service-academy rivalry back in the States, which the Pacific flag games try to mirror, commanding officers presiding over the game said the standard “Go Army! Beat Navy!” and vice versa always gives way to becoming one team again once the final whistle blows.
“It’s always good to see the comraderies of the two installations,” Atsugi commanding officer Capt. John Bushey said of the two bases, five miles apart. “We are neighbors and it’s nice to come out and support both communities.”
“It’s our chance to commemorate the traditional friendly rivalry of the service academies, over 100 years and counting,” U.S. Army Garrison Zama commanding officer Col. Joy Currera said. “It’s history and tradition on the fields of friendly strife.”
With the shutout victory, Army seized a 7-6 lead in the Army-Navy Kanto Cup series, and increased its overall lead in Pacific rivalry games to 40-15 since the first such game was played on Okinawa in 1990.
While played one week earlier than the annual Army-Navy service-academy games in the States, the Pacific flag games are designed to be closely timed with them.
A crowd of some 300 turned out at Zama’s Rambler Field on a day that began clear but cold and ended with a few raindrops falling. The crowd was entertained initially by youth teams from Zama playing their Yokosuka Naval Base counterparts (Navy won that game 28-14).
The bands Sabor Caliente and Samurai Rock, comprised of active-duty soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Japan Band, then entertained the crowd.
At halftime, Army Spc. Adam Preseau of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion performed an original composition called “Giddyup.”
It was written and copyrighted by him in honor of U.S. Army Japan commanding officers Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer Sr., who frequently uses the phrase to motivate soldiers during speeches. The song received a rousing ovation from the crowd.
While Army dominated the first half and played Navy evenly in the second, one soldier insisted there were no standout performers on his team. “The victory was the result of a solid team victory,” Staff Sgt. Antuine Perry said.
At game’s end, when the trophy was handed to Currera, she reminded Bushey that there was something he and the Atsugi sailors needed to do. Bushey and the Navy team then burst into the Army song, and the soldiers joined in to help them finish it out.
Richard L. Rodgers, a media instructor at Zama Middle School, contributed to this report.