Ten teams went head-to-head in an all-out competition of strength and endurance during Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167’s annual Highland Games at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Aug. 11. More than 250 Marines assigned to HMLA-167 competed in the events which included tug-of-war, arm wrestling, hammer toss and relay races.
"We have held this event as a squadron tradition since 2006," said Lt. Col. Samuel Meyer, the commanding officer for HMLA-167. "It’s great to take time away from the daily routine and come out as a squadron to participate in something that helps us grow as a family."
Squadrons and units across the Marine Corps often hold events such as the Highland Games as an opportunity to build camaraderie away from work, but some are so effective they become traditions. Not only do these events embody the competitive warrior spirit that each Marine holds, but they strengthen bonds and resilience within the units as well.
"I think the Highland Games set up by the squadron are important for building camaraderie among the Marines, developing a healthy sense of competition between the different shops, and it’s also good means of giving back to the Marines for all the hard work they put in," said Capt. Stuart Bryson, the embark officer with HMLA-167.
While the Marines see each other and work together on a daily basis, their efforts are concentrated on getting the job done so that operations continue to run smoothly for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
"The Highland Games give us a chance to decompress with other members of our unit while doing something fun outdoors," said Lance Cpl. Manuel Valderrama, an airframe mechanic with HMLA-167. "This is my second time participating in the games and I always look forward to it. We can share laughs and encourage our teammates, regardless of the work section they belong to or the rank they are."
The final elimination event for the games was a relay race between the top three teams to see who would stand above the rest as the Highland Games champion.
"I think the importance of the games is the competitive nature of them," said Bryson. "Marines are competitive people and putting them in situations where they are competing to be number one brings out the best in them."