Spc. Jacob R. Mahaffey
2nd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
Members of the Syracuse Chiefs, the minor league baseball team affiliate of the Washington Nationals, visited the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, here July 19.
The 4-31 Infantry Polar Bears showed the Chiefs what it takes to be a Soldier and how the Army works as a team.
Players had an opportunity to see several different weapons, including a .50-cal machine gun, a MK-19 automatic grenade launcher, and more that could be mounted on the ground or in a vehicle.
At another station, a Soldier’s full combat load was on display so players could see and feel the weight that troops wear in combat. The equipment included the advanced combat helmet, improved outer tactical vest, and the load-bearing vest with attached items.
Soldiers from C Company put on a display of hand-to-hand fighting known as combatives. This was to show the players how deadly a Soldier can be with his hands.
For lunch, the group ate at the Riva Ridge Café dining facility, where they spent time with Solders and asked questions.
“This was a great bonding experience for us,” said Tug Hulett, a Chief’s player. “We got to learn about the Army and some of the day-in and day-out routines Soldiers do. It helped us come together as a unit, as Soldiers would say.”
The day ended with Lt. Col. Robert Ryan, 4-31 Infantry commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Benny Dobbs, the battalion’s command sergeant major, presenting the Chiefs with a framed custom 4-31 Polar Bear print along with several coins.
“We have to work as a team to accomplish goals,” said Randy Knorr, Chief’s team manager. “This was a great opportunity for us to see how the Army works as a team to defend our freedom.”
The Chiefs presented Ryan and Dobbs with jerseys signed by each member of the team. The Chiefs gave out baseballs, pictures, pennants and autographs and met with Soldiers.
“The majority of the time, Soldiers are training in back woods or are downrange,” Ryan said. “This was a great opportunity for the Chiefs to see what skills it takes to be a professional Soldier and for the Soldiers to meet and learn what it takes to be a professional athlete.”