Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
The sand pit. The sand pit has been the place where people have settled disputes and held competitions for thousands of years. You can trace the lineage of the sand pit back to ancient Rome and the infamous Coliseum and amphitheaters that held the vicious gladiatorial games.
In present times the sand pit is still used for battle, but for a variety of different reasons. One such battle happened here at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Oct. 19. This battle, held annually since 2012, is staged to bring attention to the Combined Federal Campaign. The CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, raising millions of dollars each year. These dollars are used to support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.
Cherry Point supports the CFC, but adds a little life to the campaign by hosting a Tug-of-War tournament to kick off the campaign. This tournament is not so different from the ancient battles held upon the sandy Coliseum floor, but instead of bare feet and sandals worn by gladiators, the footwear of choice for our modern day warfighters are combat boots; and instead of a body covered by armor, they wear camouflage; and instead of a fight to the death, it is a fight of determination and will to see who will pull the opposing team of 10 across Cherry Point’s own pit of sand.
Some battles were swift and others dragged on for minutes that seemed like hours. Each team pulling with all of their might, muscles bulging and the crowd screaming at them to pull with every ounce of strength in their bodies, much like the bloodthirsty Romans who packed the stands to see the ancient gladiators make contact with their foes.
Team by team they fell, and only the strongest moved on to the next round; each team with the same goal, to hoist the CFC Tug-of-War trophy above their heads in victory, and to help bring attention to this year’s CFC.
As we reached the final round only two teams remained, a group of determined Sailors named “Corpsmen Up!” from Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point and a team of Marines called the “Monstars” from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14.
Each team had battled fiercely the previous round and fatigue had started to set in. They were given a five-minute break and then set up for the final battle. Each team narrow-eyed and unwavering as they lay in the sand and waited for the sergeant major’s command to commence battle. “PULL!!!,” roared the sergeant major, his voice cracking from calling the previous engagements of the day.
Each team leapt up and grabbed the woven rope and began trying to yank the opposing team across the designated point in the sand. It was a valiant effort for both teams, but on this day, the Sailors bested the Marines of MALS-14 and pulled them across the designated spot in the churned up sand pit.
The Sailors of “Corpsmen Up!” held the trophy and celebrated a hard-fought victory. They fought through fatigue and showed the endurance to outlast each and everything the Marines threw at them. This must have been how the gladiators of yesteryear felt after winning their battles in the Coliseum and continuing onto the next fight.
The CFC today is known to be the most inclusive workplace giving campaign in the world with the number of participating charities estimated at over 20,000 nonprofit charitable organizations worldwide. The 2018 Cherry Point area CFC began Oct. 1, 2018, and will close Jan. 11, 2019. The mission for the Cherry Point campaign is to educate, foster and encourage 100 percent participation to promote and support individual philanthropy of the CFC. Unit representatives will be in contact with service members and civilians about how to pledge to a charity of their choice. Starting in 2018, donors now have the added option to make a pledge online. For more information on the Carolinas Combined Federal Campaign, please visit carolinascfc.org.