It has been a phenomenal year.
After spending nearly one year in Iraq, stepping off the plane from Kuwait and onto the snow-crusted tarmac in Wisconsin was surreal. I have never been so thankful to live in the United States.
I think all Americans have an understanding that we are truly lucky or blessed to have been born in this country with all of its priceless freedoms. To travel to a distant location and experience a place that is foreign to America in nearly every way cements that sensation in you.
Thanks are in order for all of you in the Big League Wiffle Ball community who supported and are supporting the Midwest contingent. I appreciated the letters from the Connecticut school kids that Nick Benas set up. Our favorite letter received from an elementary school kid read: “Dear Soldier: Don’t Die. I love you.” We all thought that was really funny and kept saying it to one another as we went on missions or just killed time on the FOB (Forward Operating Base).
As Nick Benas introduced Wiffle Ball to the Iraqis during his tour with the Marine Corps, Cory Newmann and I have tried to carry on his legacy. I hoped that at some point we could’ve snapped a photo under the crossed sabers in Baghdad with wiffle bats, but that opportunity never presented itself. In fact, the only time I even saw the crossed sabers were when we were flying down the streets in our MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles, trying to get back to our base while roadside bombs and small arms fire were lighting up the streets of Baghdad. Our motto that night was “Drive Fast, Take Chances.”
We did get some chances to play wiffle ball on Camp Liberty. With makeshift fields carved into the sand and gravel, water bottles made up field lines. Packing the strike zone and balls and bats was worth it. It will always be a memory that I could never have imagined in all my life. Newmann coming down to Baghdad and sneaking in a wiffle ball game or two among the palm trees, not far from where Paul R. Smith earned the Medal of Honor fighting off a company-sized (approximately 100 man) attack with a .50 caliber machine gun. Insane.
Another thanks are in order to DOOM who sent me some autographed wiffle balls while I was over there. I appreciate the hell out of that–couldn’t believe it when I tore the package open after mail call.
Well, you’re probably sick of listening to me jaw-jack so I’ll hang it up. I just wanted to let everyone know that I appreciate their support. Please remember Cory as he still has a couple more months in the sandbox. Hopefully he’ll get out of there before the summer heat hits 120 so we can bring some more Big League Wiffle Ball to the Midwest.
I can’t wait to set up the wiffle fields in the Midwestern summer sun, have everyone come out, and listen to the crack of the plastic. What is more American than that?
Ben Biddick, BLWB Midwest Manager