Latest from Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Capt. Eric Martz, 30, of Tigard, Ore., is rooting for the Beavers today. He yells in disbelief as the Ducks gain a first down and his comrade, Duck fan Lt. Cote does a victory dance.
“I will root for whatever Oregon team is playing out of state,” says Martz. “But when it comes down to the Civil War I always root for OSU.”
Martz has to support his brother’s alma mater.
Capt. David Wendell, 36, of St. Paul Ore., jumps up and cheers as OSU catches a pass. Wendell says he is a Beaver fan because he loves America.
“I think they can win, but it’s unlikely,” says Wendell. “They were the underdogs coming into this. I’m very proud of their effort."
Oregon State and Oregon fans mingle as they watch the game.
“It would have been a more exciting end if it had come down to the last play,” says 1st Sgt. Shinn. “That’s the best Civil War game in years.”
As soon as the final point is scored soldiers shed their duck shirts and hats and don their camo uniforms.
They leave abruptly, like they are exiting a theater after a bad movie. “I guess we realized we’re still in Iraq,” says one soldier.
“I’m glad they won, but I’m tired,” says Staff Sgt. Chestnut, who hasn’t slept since yesterday, on her way out.
The dining hall, filled with whoops and cheers, is now is empty and quiet just like any other day in Iraq. Instead of rushing the field these football fans rush back to work.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Lt. Libby Smith, former Duck cheerleader, is stationed in Tallil, but is visiting Baghdad for business, so she happens to be in town for the Civil War at JVB.
"I'm glad it turned out to be a good game," she says during half time. "It's already a close game."
Smith and a college friend, Lt. Justin Howland, of La Grande, Ore., attended the UO together and are now meeting up in Baghdad for the first time this deployment. "It's an interesting feeling," says Smith about watching football in a combat zone. 'I wish I was back home."
Beaver fan Sgt. Justin Moore, 30, of Hood River, stationed in Baghdad, jumps up as the Beavers score a touchdown.
"I could do this all day," he says wearing an OSU hat sent by a wife of a fellow soldier. "I just hate the Ducks," he says."'OSU is an an agriculture school. I grew up on a farm, my whole family hates the ducks," says Moore, who grew up to be a Beaver's fan.
Duck fan Capt. Brian Dukes, of Tualatin, Ore., calls his reaction to the last play before half time, as "spirited."
He clasps his hands in frustration behind his head as the sun sets outside. "Oregon was rushing on the last play of the half," he says. "But it was all for not because they didn't score."
"Things are going extremely well," says Beaver fan Col. Dan Hokanson, commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team beofre he cuts the cake with Duck fan Lt. Col. BJ Prendergast."We've been hyping this up.
We knew it was going to be a great game, we had no idea it would be for the Rose Bowl," says Hokanson.
"The football games allow us to focus on Saturday," says Prendergast about the de-stressing benefits of the game.
"It's shortened the deployment. It's our way to connect with loved ones that feel the same (about football) back home," says Prendergast.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- It’s 4 a.m., and Oregon soldiers from the 41st Infantry gather in the office before sunrise and head to Joint Visitor Bureau Hotel in Baghdad for a morning of football.
Duck fan Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Shinn, 35, of Roseburg, Ore., and Duck fan Staff Sgt. Patricia Chestnut, 43, of the Dalles, Ore., just finished a convoy security mission and head to the hotel to catch the game.
At 5 a.m. ESPN is playing the end of a basketball game, UW vs Texas Tech. Soldiers gather inside the hotel’s dining room in a mix match of camo and Duck or Beaver gear. Duck fan, Lt. Col. BJ Prendergast of Portland, Ore., hands out donated Duck and Beaver shirts and hats from his civilian workplace, Nike.
“No matter what happens a team from Oregon is going to the Rose Bowl,” says Prendergast. At 5:30 am, soldiers are growing restless asking, “Is the screen displaying the right channel, or is something is wrong?"
“I’m not to happy,” says Shinn about the basketball game cutting into Duck time and the fact that the ticker on the bottom screen reveals that OSU scored a touchdown. The crowd yells with enthusiasm, they are as close to the game as possible.
Finally at 5:45 a.m. the screen displays the Ducks and Beavers running across the field. Now the only thing that’s missing are TV commercials, which don’t air here and beer.
Duck and Beaver fans line up for breakfast at the JVB Hotel, Baghdad.
Soldier grab gear donated by Nike for today.
Lt. William Cote, 40, of Camas, WA celebrates the Duck's first touchdown. "I used to live in Tigard," says Cote as to why he is rooting for the Ducks.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Shinn and Sgt. Justine Keeney show their true colors inside the dining room at the JVB Hotel, Baghdad.
More stories about Duck and Beaver fans in Iraq
Cali Bagby embedded with the Oregon Army National Guard from the 41st Infantry for KVAL.com. Her work has been published in the Washington Post and the Eugene Weekly.
More stories | Visit her Web site