American pastime helps pass the time in Iraq

By Lynda Figueredo - bioemail

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Even though they are overseas our Fort Stewart soldiers are still enjoying a great American past time, football.

Soldiers from the 5/7 Calvary scored a break from missions in order to blow off some steam on the football field.

"We do this for camaraderie between the soldiers, and between the troops, to give them time to decompress from being in this environment we are in," said Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Gartska. "We go out and do this and that it gives back to these guys, to let them know they can let their guard down just a little bit to have fun and be amongst friends and soldiers."

The soldiers stationed in Iraq played a series of games during the flag football tournament leading up to the final superbowl game that took place this past week.

"You want to try to win and be the best you can do," Garstka said. "We have a good old time. if you have any stress in your life to get rid of some of the stress.

Garstka played for University of Mississippi as a tight end and defensive lineman. Now as a soldier, he says the game not only unites but also uplifts spirits.

"If you don't have strong camaraderie and have [tenacity], people start doing their own things and they get put in their own rooms and try to hide themselves from everyone else," Garstka said. "It is not a good thing. When we all together we see every solider and know what they are doing, especially for these 18-year-olds to 21-year-old soldiers who have come straight out of high school from mom and dad, this is their first grimace of reality is going to a war zone."

For a few hours, the battle zone was on the football field where players had a chance to forget where they were and put their head in the game.

This was the first summer a Super Bowl has been held.

In November, the soldiers will participate in the annual Turkey Bowl.

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