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The Second Annual AFRICOM Olympics held at Kelley Barracks
Staff members and their families at U.S. Africa Command gathered to participate and cheer on 22 different competitions during the second annual AFRICOM Olympics on August 10, 2012. The events included the 400-meter relay, a basketball tournament,
STUTTGART, Germany - Participants of U.S. Africa Command's 2nd annual Olympics take part in the 400 meter relay, August 10, 2012. The Olympics provided a day for AFRICOM to build camaraderie, esprit de corps, and professional and personal relationships between team members and their families while enjoying games, food, and social activities. Events included track, flag football, basketball, kickball, dodgeball, water balloon toss, and a chili cook-off, among many others. The overall winners of the AFRICOM Olympics were the J3 (Operations and Cyber) and J4 (Logistics) directorates.  (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: STUTTGART, Germany - Participants of U.S. Africa Command's 2nd annual Olympics take part in the 400 meter relay, August 10, 2012. The Olympics provided a day for AFRICOM to build camaraderie, esprit de corps, and professional and personal relationships between team members and their families while enjoying games, food, and social activities. Events included track, flag football, basketball, kickball, dodgeball, water balloon toss, and a chili cook-off, among many others. The overall winners of the AFRICOM Olympics were the J3 (Operations and Cyber) and J4 (Logistics) directorates. (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Danielle Skinner) Download full-resolution version
Staff members and their families at U.S. Africa Command gathered to participate and cheer on 22 different competitions during the second annual AFRICOM Olympics on August 10, 2012. The events included the 400-meter relay, a basketball tournament, an egg run, and a chili cook-off, among many others.



"This is very important to General Ham," said Command Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson, Jr. "It's actually coming out and saying thank you to everybody, letting everyone know how much we appreciate each other. It's about the camaraderie; it's about the esprit de corps. And I think the strength of an organization, quite honestly, is the morale and esprit de corps, and this is just one of many things we do that is symbolic of just that. "



General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, was in Ghana to attend the funeral of Ghana's president, John Evans Atta Mills, which was held the same day.



"One of the most important things that makes us effective, whether it's civilians or whether military, is our Total Force Fitness, and that encompasses mental, social, emotional, environmental, spiritual -- the list goes on, and this great event really answers that call," Johnson added. The Total Force Fitness Program focuses on eight areas of well-being, which includes those Johnson mentioned. The aim of the program is to encourage service members to think beyond just traditional physical fitness.



Following a spirited opening ceremony with remarks by Vice Admiral Joe Leidig, deputy to the commander for military operations, a single gunshot rang out to signify the start of the first competition, the 400-meter relay. Other events quickly followed, including an intense dodgeball contest, a Ping-Pong competition, and flag football games.



Even the youngest competitors tossed water balloons, raced while hula-hooping, and battled for the final spot in musical chairs. Other children enjoyed jumping around in a bounce house and face painting while listening to music played by Armed Forces Network and deejays.



One of the most popular non-athletic events was the chili cook-off, coordinated by Sergeant First Class Amy Bauer, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Commander's Open Mess. Four judges -- Chief of Staff Major General O.G. Mannon, Commander of Special Operations Command Africa Rear Admiral Brian Losey, Lieutenant Colonel George Mims, and J1/8 (Resources) Director Robert Maxwell -- tasted the 12 entries. After much consideration, Melissa Kreitzer from the J3 (Operations and Cyber) Directorate won first place, with Kevin Levija from headquarters staff taking second, and Jane Rathbun from the J1/8 Directorate placing third.



After judging the chili cook-off, Mannon described his favorite part of the day: "Watching the young people go along with their fathers and mothers was way cool. Being military families, we don't get as many opportunities to do that as much as other folks do. It's really important for the young people to do things with their families. They'll remember this for a long time."



Members of the J6/7/9 (Systems/Joint Training and Exercises/Outreach) Directorates ensured everyone received a hot meal, grilling an incredible total of 900 hamburgers and 600 hot dogs. Building relationships, both on the continent and within the command, is a critical aspect of AFRICOM's mission. As service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and their families shared lunch, new friendships developed.



During the closing ceremonies, Leidig announced the overall winners. The J3/4 Directorates, the reigning champions, successfully defended their title, placing first with 49 points. U.S. Marine Forces Africa took second, only a half a point behind, and the J5 Directorate (Strategy, Plans, and Programs) placed third with 35 points.



A three-way tie for the spirit award sparked an impromptu dance-off by the J5 Directorate, the command group, and the J1/8 Directorates. Command leaders unanimously ruled J1/8 the winners of the 2012 AFRICOM Olympics spirit award.



In his closing remarks, Leidig said it best: "Thanks for all of the hard work you do every single day at AFRICOM. It's an amazing place to be, and I'm proud to be part of this team."



See more photos of the event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/africom/sets/72157631046795434/



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