Story and photo by Pfc. Nathan Thome
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Thumbs mashing buttons and wiggling joysticks, coincided with cheers of excitement and groans of disappointment resonating from the classrooms of the “Raider” Brigade headquarters building, Feb. 24.
More than 70 Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in a “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” tournament hosted by the unit’s Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers program.
Soldiers competed against each other in the first-person shooter video game by setting up timed, multi-player matches with their personal video game consoles. At the end of each match, the team with the most points advanced to the next round in the tournament.
Created to enhance the morale and welfare of single Soldiers, increase Soldier retention and sustain combat readiness, the brigade’s BOSS program organized the event for 1st BCT Soldiers.
“BOSS is mainly geared toward Soldiers that are in the barracks, but includes single Soldiers throughout the brigade,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Costello, brigade adjutant.
The tournament was the first BOSS event held since Raider Brigade returned from its Afghanistan deployment last summer, said Costello.
“An important aspect of this event is that it was held during the workday, so it didn’t take away from Soldiers’ personal time, giving them the chance to incorporate training in a fun way,” said Costello. “That allowed Soldiers from different battalions to come together and build a network of camaraderie throughout the brigade.”
In the months ahead, Soldiers from 1st BCT will conduct field training exercises, as well as travel to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
With the busy schedule ahead of the brigade, the tournament provided the Soldiers the perfect opportunity to relax and refresh, said Costello.
“This event was considered training for the day, because Soldiers solidified strong ties within the brigade, which is important because it creates a support group that can sustain them through deployment,” he said.
Unit representatives conducted an informal survey in January, asking single Soldiers in the brigade which BOSS event they would like to participate in the most.
The survey ensured the voices of the single Soldiers are heard, giving the troops the opportunity to provide input on things that are important to them, said Costello.
“The Raider command team is responsible for breathing new life into the BOSS program by asking the Soldiers what they would like to see more of,” said Costello. “They are really listening to what Soldiers have to say and are giving them what they want, while trying to reach every demographic of single Soldiers.”
Soldiers competing in the tournament helped make the event possible by bringing their personal TVs and video game consoles to the brigade headquarters.
As competition began, teams crowded around 16 flat-screen TVs scattered throughout the classroom to see who would win the first round.
“My teammate and I played about eight consecutive games … before taking first place,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Cruz, cavalry scout, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT.
Cruz said he never expected to meet so many people with similar interests.
The event also provided some of Raider Brigade’s newest arrivals the opportunity to meet Soldiers from other battalions and build their own support groups.
Soldiers make new friends and connections outside of their units at BOSS events, which help to build the team and create single-Soldier support systems, said Costello.
“I think it’s great that the command has taken an interest in the single Soldiers of the brigade,” said Pfc. Justin Price, cavalry scout, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT. “They are giving Soldiers the opportunity to meet other Soldiers and build camaraderie; I know I’ve done that with the … people I met in this tournament.”