They make up some excuse about St. Patrick building churches that were fortresses for those who were being persecuted. Nobody is buying it.
Real reason: Many of the early 20th century’s military engineers were Irish. And many military engineers like to drink. And thus we celebrate.
As the Commanding General for the Marine Logistics Group is a combat engineer, there was an uproarious gathering of officers on Saturday night to celebrate the weekend. To say that there were more than a few men wearing kilts would be an understatement; but what really surprised me were the number of shillelaghs present at this gathering. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shillelagh_(club))
But what really makes the combat engineer celebration of St. Patrick is the “Field Meet”. Last week, combat engineers from 9th ESB (my Marines), the Marine Wing Support Squadron (Marines), the Combat Assault Battalion (Marines), the Seabees (Navy), the Red Horse Squadron (Air Force), and the Combat Engineer Battalion (Air Force) met on the field of battle to figure out who was the best.
While we were able to avoid actual combat, the games seemed to be a hybrid of the Highland games (or whatever the Irish equivalent is), Redneck Olympics, Jewish Camp Yom Sports and military weirdness.
There was, of course, tug-of-war and a classic relay race.
There was also a 4x400 relay – but where the racers had to wear full MOP gear (nuclear, biological, chemical weapons protective clothing) and gas masks.
We had an Iron-Man relay: as a 5 member team, each group did 200 pull-ups, 300 pushups, 300 sit-ups, and then a half mile run carrying 20 gallons of water. Only a few (cough, cough Air Force cough, cough) servicemembers threw up as a result.
I was in the 15-person 7-ton pull (think a tractor pull, but with a massive military truck).
There were feats of engineering and softball matches, with the whole day culminating in a chariot race (what else?); each battalion/squadron designed a chariot and pulled their senior officer with a team of six personnel.
I can tell you that the invocation was powerful and motivational. The morale was high; but 9th ESB got cheated. Pictures will hopefully be posted later. And while this week has been crazy with Passover Prep – I look to days like the Field Meet and I know: It’s really nice to have a job like this.