Zama soldiers down sailors in Army-Navy flag football
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – Rivals on the field, but comrades in arms off it.
That has been the theme since soldiers from Camp Zama and sailors from Atsugi and Yokosuka Naval Base have gotten together each December to pit their flag-football skills against each other, then celebrate their common mission after the final whistle.
Under clear, sunny skies but with a tinge of pre-winter chill at Reid Memorial Stadium, Zama soldiers prevailed over their Atsugi sailor counterparts 24-21. Army leads 9-7 in a series that began in 2002.
“It’s always positive, it’s good to have an interservice rivalry, but at the end of the day we are all on the same team,” said Capt. Lloyd Mack, NAF Atsugi’s commanding officer. “It’s a universal service. It’s what makes us better. The interservice rivalry brings us together and strengthens us.”
“Our mission in the Pacific is that we do communications for the Navy, so this is just for some fun and bragging rights, but at the end of the day, we shake hands and get back to work,” said Zama deputy garrison commander Lt. Col. Siegfried Ramil.
They were joined by other members of USAG-Japan and NAF Atsugi’s command elements and some 110 spectators at Reid Memorial.
The contest, which began just past 1 p.m., was preceded by a pair of youth games sponsored by Navy MWR at Atsugi, halftime shows featuring youth and local cheer teams and a guidon relay race.
A field-goal contest was held at halftime, preceding the second half of what ended up as a nip-and-tuck contest, flipping the narrative of last year’s game at Camp Zama in which Navy won.
After the game, Navy’s players followed the tradition of singing the winning team’s service song.
“It was an awesome privilege, an honor, but it was overwhelming,” said Donnie Osborne, an Army civilian, of the victory.
The Army-Navy flag-football games coincide with the Army-Navy service academy games that conclude college football’s regular season. Saturday’s game was played Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where Army prevailed in the snow 14-13.
Coupled with Army’s 32-0 shutout of Navy last weekend at Yongsan Garrison and Navy’s 18-10 come-from-behind win over Army on Okinawa’s Camp Shields on Saturday, Army holds a cumulative 46-19 lead in flag-football rivalry games that began in 1990 on Okinawa.
Theresa Ames is a senior yearbook student-reporter/photographer at Zama American Middle-High School.