Sep 7, 2010 11:43 AM by 1st Lt. Angela Fry
Despite the 120-degree temperatures, swirling dust storms and the distance, love for Southeastern Conference football is strong in the deployed Louisiana National Guard with 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), headquartered in Shreveport, La.
The friendly bantering of SEC rival fans filled the air Sept. 3 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq, as soldiers gathered to pose for photos with two Louisiana State University flags, signed by the 2010-2011 Louisiana State Fighting Tigers football team.
Occasional echoes of "Go Auburn" and "Roll Tide" were scattered throughout the pro-LSU formation. What stood out most was the single blue and orange University of Florida Gator mug; the initial cause for the day's events.
"One of our soldiers was given a Florida Gator mug when she was stationed at Victory Base Complex with our parent unit, the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team," said 1st Lt. Trey White, the executive officer of C Troop, and a Shreveport, La., native. "That mug obviously would not sit well with a 3,600-member brigade that so strongly cheers for LSU."
White added, jokingly, "I guess it wasn't so surprising when the mug was taken and replaced with a ransom note demanding she become an LSU fan…or else."
The soldier, who chose to remain nameless, asked her sister, Susan Avery, to send the biggest LSU flag she could find to her APO address in Iraq.
"I was so surprised when she called and asked me to send an LSU flag," said Avery, a West Monroe, La., native. "If anything, she is 'Miss Florida Gator' and there is no way she will ever cheer for LSU. I realized then that it was her intent to burn the flag in front of the brigade if her Gator mug wasn't returned."
The Gator mug was eventually returned to the soldier after she was provided the opportunity to serve as personnel officer for the cavalry squadron and relocated to COB Adder, but not after the ultimate prank was played.
"I called a close friend of ours who works for the LSU football team," explained Avery. "He purchased two LSU flags and presented them to Coach Les Myles, who had the two flags signed by the 2010-2011 LSU Tiger football team. I knew that, as much as my sister loves college football, there was no way she could burn those flags after those players took the time to show their support to the 2/108th."
The love of college football, specifically SEC football, runs rampant through the state of Louisiana. It is one thing that provides esprit de corps among the squadron, and gives the soldiers something to look forward to on Saturdays away from home.
"The troopers have been counting the days to LSU football," said Maj. Keith Robinson, squadron operations officer, and a New Orleans, La., native. "It's definitely one thing we have to look forward to and definitely brings the squadron together on Saturdays, even if they don't all cheer for LSU.
"The chance to participate in this opportunity to show our appreciation for what the team brings to the soldiers is great. We grabbed the chance to get the squadron together due to some unexpected changes in missions."
To show her appreciation for the support of the LSU football team, Miss Florida Gator arranged a squadron formation to pose for pictures with the flags to present to Coach Myles and his team at a later date. Regardless of her appreciation for the Tigers' gesture of support to the Louisiana Soldiers, right before the snap of the picture, the infamous blue and Orange University of Florida Gator mug appeared in the shot, directly over a signed LSU flag.