Photo Information

CAMP AL QA'IM, Iraq (Dec. 25, 2005) -- Three Marines cross the finish line during the five-kilometer run portion of the Camp Al Qa'im Fitness Challenge held here Dec. 25. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander)

Photo by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

Marines, Sailors and Soldiers celebrate Christmas holiday in competition.;

25 Dec 2005 | Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

Spending the holidays deployed, far away from friends and family, can be rough on service members.  The Marines and Sailors here held the Camp Al Qa’im Christmas Fitness Challenge to alleviate that stress.

“These things build morale and breaks the monotony,” said Manning, S.C., native, Sgt. Antwoin L. Hilton, the platoon sergeant for Motor Transportation Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.  “It’s better than thinking about what you could be doing back home.”

The challenge included a five-kilometer run, a ping-pong challenge, three-on-three basketball, a three-point basketball shootout and martial arts and boxing clinics. 

“(The events) were mostly for morale,” said Grapevine, Texas, native 2nd Lt. Jeremy M. Nelson, the adjutant for the battalion, who placed first in the five-kilometer run.  “It gives Marines something fun to do.  It also keeps Marines busy on a day that could potentially be depressing.”

According to Nelson, approximately 200 service members showed up for the run and related events, most dressed in various Christmas related attire; sock hats and the like.  Medals and embossed towels were given to the winners and runners up in the events. 

“This gets everybody together like a family, keeps them from being depressed,” said Hilton. 

“It’s just how we spent Christmas here in Iraq,” added Nelson.  “It gives a chance to celebrate and forget at the same time.”