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Tech. Sgt. Craig Lifton
POINT BASE BALAD, Iraq –
Early morning, just past 2 a.m., Feb. 2, more than 6,000 miles away from Tampa Bay, Fla., service members deployed here gathered in a time-honored American tradition: watching the Super Bowl live.
At the theater once used by Saddam Hussein, football fans arrived in the dark and claimed their seats. Some watched from the balcony as Jennifer Hudson belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, performed the coin toss.
“It feels great to be sitting here,” said Senior Airman John Tomlinson, a security forces member with the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, deployed from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. “I’m in Saddam’s theater watching the Super Bowl.”
The Dighton, Mass., native and his friends chatted about the teams and made predictions about which one would win the championship game.
Other facilities here also broadcast the Super Bowl live in the early morning today. Two of the dining facilities treated football fans to football-themed decorations and an assortment of sports finger foods from chicken wings to mozzarella sticks.
Deep into the second quarter, Airmen and Soldiers crowd into the Red Tail Recreation Center to watch the game. Here, the Super Bowl started earlier with a football video game tournament, Super Bowl-themed bingo, and Super Bowl trivia. A spectrum of emotions could be seen as a team scores -- some look on in disbelief; others swing towels over their heads cheering the play.
“Watching the game here in Iraq [JBB] is as good as it can be,” said Master Sgt. Sean Howard, a Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airman with the 18th Expeditionary Weather Squadron. “It’s always good to get everyone together to unwind from our daily activities.”
Howard talked about how he was passing through JBB when he heard about the Super Bowl activities at the recreation center and stopped by. He is a San Diego native deployed from Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
“It’s unbelievable what has been done here and the organization it took to do all of this,” said Capt. Jerry Lee, an intelligence officer with the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed from Homestead AFB, Fla. “It’s incredible and a very nice thing to watch the Super Bowl here in Iraq.”