BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
The enlisted and the officers of the 104th Fighter Wing began the battle on Saturday evening of drill. Airmen of all ranks took their places on the line for darts, shuffleboard, corn hole, foosball, giant Jenga, flip cup, and pool. They stood across from each other and could see eye to eye during a friendly competition of popular games. The event was named the Officers vs. Enlisted Airmen Olympics, and the second anniversary of the games was held, Feb. 1, 2020.
“Master Sergeant Heather Dragon and I realized it would be good to build a group of people who would want to come out to an event regularly to enjoy the camaraderie at the Pioneer Valley Club,” said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Mcgrath, 104th Fighter Wing Services kitchen lead and Ludlow High School Biology teacher.
The phrase “Let the games begin” is a throwback to the opening of the Olympic Games held every four years since Greece founded the games. It is an order given by emperors in the Olympics in Ancient Greece to start the Olympic Games.
“Tradition sounds silly, but the tradition of going to the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Club, celebrating promotions and catching up with people is good,” said Mcgrath. “Even catching up on milestones and life events is hard over the short amount of time, we see each other at drill.”
A local food truck was on location at the PVC club as part of the festivities.
“On top of the food truck, why wouldn’t you want to come out to watch the enlisted win against the officers or give them a run for the gold,” said Mcgrath. “The food truck was to entice people to start coming out to the events together.”
Because of the unique skill sets and the mission of each Squadron, the Airmen hone their skills within their Air Force Specialty Career Field.
“I don’t know what people do across the other parts of the base in great detail,” said Mcgrath. “My Dad served in finance, so I kind of know but not as if I lived a day in the life of a finance Airman. Sgt. Dragon and I remember people enjoying the Pioneer Valley Club, and it being a great time to get to know others from outside your work sectors to build relationships across the base.”
The participants were able to purchase t-shirts with the 104th FW aircraft mission, the F-15 Eagle, proudly displayed. The t-shirts also had the words Enlisted or Officer accordingly as part of the friendly competition.
“This was my first Olympics, and it was a lot of fun, especially because we won,” said Airman 1st class Mabell Teixeira. “I liked the Olympics a lot because it was a friendly competition, and everyone was very involved. Everyone seemed to be really into it, and the food was great.”
The final score was 14 enlisted and 13 officers. The night came down to the Giant Jenga challenge with Airman 1st Class Mabell Teixeira and Staff Sgt. Shemron Ross of the Force Support Squadron winning the competition for the enlisted.
“The club events like this create a space for getting together to build relationships for not only myself but other Airmen,” said Mcgrath. “I want people to know you don’t have to participate. We always need people rooting for the team, and we want additional ideas from everyone.”
Several Airmen who serve in Logistics, Maintenance, Operations, Medical, Services, and Security Forces, took part in the games.
“From personal experience over the 13 years I have served here, I work in the services building, and often I’m here managing or cooking during the day,” said Mcgrath. “The meal is pretty important. I concentrate on our Force Support Squadron mission and don’t necessarily have time to interact with the units around the base.”
“Even aside from just the importance of bringing people together, it is important at the end of drill taking a breath and saying hello to someone you don’t know,” said McGrath.