USS PELELIU, At Sea -- Sailors and Marines, aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), participated in a dodgeball tournament as part of the ongoing Campbell's Cup ship wide competition, Jan. 24.
Service members from different work centers and departments throughout the ship gathered in the hangar bay and showed their ability to, in the words of Patches O'Houlihan, from the movie, "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," "dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge."
"It was very successful," said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Edward S. Debaun from Copperopolis, Calif., Campbell Cup coordinator, assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "We had 22 teams of 10 members...plus at least 500 people out there watching. It was controlled chaos."
The teams, some wearing colorful uniforms decorated with their names and numbers, arrived early to register, while spectators gathered around the makeshift arena to support their modern day gladiators.
"It was intense," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Justin M. Smith from Milton, Wash., who played on team 'Crash and Smash.' "As long as I've been in the Navy, I haven't seen something this big while underway. There were a lot of people who came out to support their teams."
With the teams ready to play, the referee declared the rules, modified to be "Japanese style," which meant two balls in the court and players being eliminated for the rest of the match. A player could still be part of the game standing on the sidelines behind the opposing team to try to knock them off.
"If you play American dodgeball, we would be playing until 0100...too long," said Debaun. He modified the rules to speed up the matches.
The first four teams took their places on the two courts. The players readied for the coming storm. The referee took his place in the middle, then shattered the anticipation with the scream of "dodgeball!"
"It was very intense, it was definitely a battle. Everyone was moving around so it took a lot of coordination," said Marine Sgt. Joshua B. Kelso from Stockton, Calif., with team 'Last Minute.' "You have to think three steps ahead before you go two steps behind."
The entire tournament lasted an hour and a half, though for some it wasn't just a game.
"Dodgeball tonight was probably the most serious I've been in my entire Navy career," said Smith. "It was honestly [played] like a championship game, you didn't want to lose and let anybody down."
Team after team fought to earn a place in the finals. As the contest went on, the teams dwindled down until only two remained. The crowd drew in closer; anticipating the final match.
The teams, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's "Recon Command Element" and Peleliu's "Crash and Smash," faced off for the championship.
Volley after volley was sent back and forth between the teams with audible thuds of foam ball on flesh as they both slugged it out. The tension mounted with each team taking eliminations from both sides. A final call, "you're out!" and a cheer rang out from the audience. The Marine's Recon Command Element was declared the winners.
"What you saw out there was fun, and they were competitive. Sailors and Marines who normally do not associate with one another [did]," said Debaun. "That was the whole aspect, which was to bring them together to build a bond."
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, and with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.