Posted: Sep 21, 2010 11:11 AM
Updated: Sep 21, 2010 11:29 AM
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - With the constant mission of escorting convoys, and conducting special operations, 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment does not get a day off, but Soldiers from the Louisiana Army National Guard's "Task Force Bandit," used what down time they had to unwind from the daily grind of deployment, and take part in a morale welfare and recreation event at Joint Base Balad in Iraq.
When the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) announced the competitive boat race, logistics noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony J. Bordelon and his assistant, Sgt. James M. Colvin took on the challenge of building and racing their own boat, which could only be constructed of used water bottles and duct tape, and had to be large enough to fit two people.
"We didn't really have a specific plan, but we knew that our boat needed to be designed based on what would give it more speed, so we gave it a canoe shape," Colvin said.
They said with their battalion's name, "Task Force Bandit," it was only suiting that they chose a theme that would match.
After about two weeks, at least 350 water bottles, and more than seven large rolls of duct tape, the Lake Charles, La., residents presented the "Bleaux Ba-you," -- their pirate themed vessel.
Hoping it would at least float long enough to get to the other side; the duo set out, and represented the Lake Charles headquartered battalion, during the installation-wide race at a large outdoor pool, lined with spectators.
Though they came in second amongst their group, finishing only seconds behind the overall winners, Bordelon and Colvin did not walk away with a prize, but said it was enough fun to make it all worth it.
"It was great to help get our minds off of work for a little while, it helps break up the monotony," Bordelon said.
Both agreed that they would do it again, but said they would like to also take a turn as the spectator, giving them the opportunity watch the event from the sidelines, so they can laugh as the sinking, and rolling man-made boats take charge over their captains.
Colvin said when Bordelon mentioned the MWR event to him, and asked if he wanted to participate, he didn't hesitate. "I thought it would be fun, but knew it would be funny more than anything. We all need something to laugh about to help reduce the stress of being in this environment."
Mobilized in January, and deployed in March, 3-156, as part of Louisiana's 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is currently spread throughout Iraq, conducting various missions while facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. Forces and equipment. "Task Force Bandit," along with the rest of the Tiger Brigade is expected to return home around the end of the year.
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By Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang
199th Garrison Command Public Affairs