USS ESSEX, off the coast of the Kingdom of Thailand --
More than 150 Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 crowded into the mess deck of the USS Essex (LHD 2), to watch the Super Bowl 45 before the start of exercise Cobra Gold 2011, Feb.7.
The coin toss and kick-off was followed by cheers that could be heard throughout the ship as the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers fought for the title of Super Bowl champions.
“This is my first time on a ship,” said Lance Cpl. Mihir J. Patel, a warehouse clerk with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “I was surprised when I heard they would be showing it, it was the last thing I expected to see.”
Although the Marines may be far from home, leaders always try to make it possible to see the legendary game at sea.
“We show the game every year on this ship,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer William Robbins, an intelligence specialist with the ship’s surface warfare division. “We know how much it means to everyone, and we do all we can to support it. Last year we set up a big screen in the hanger bay, but because we have so many aircraft we were not able to this year.”
Upon conclusion of the game, some walked out with smiles on their faces, saying “I knew they would win” and the others left with hopes for next year.
Everyone who watched the game seemed happy to be able to relax a little before the start of exercise Cobra Gold.
“I really had a good time,” said Pfc. Sammy Bermeo, a bulk fuel specialist with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, 31st MEU. “I got to watch the game in the middle of the Pacific, and relax and hang out with my friends. I am really glad they did this for us before we left.”
The 31st MEU participates in Cobra Gold 2011 from Feb. 7-18. Thailand has hosted Cobra Gold, one of the largest land-based, joint, combined military training exercises in the world, for three decades.
Cobra Gold provides unique and Dynamic training opportunities for participating military partners, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities.