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Cpl. Trevor Ryan, a small arms repairer/technician with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, slides across the dirt after a barrage of soccer balls landed on target at Combat Outpost Rawah, Iraq, Oct. 9. Militia, a gladiator from the TV series â??American Gladiators,â? bellows in victory, trying to drown out the cheers of the nearby crowd. Titan, Phoenix, Militia, Venom and Panther came to meet the service members on the outpost and play the Marine Corps variation of the â??Assault Courseâ? event from the series.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

American Gladiators tour Iraq

14 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Combat Outpost Rawah, Iraq -- Atop the flatbed of a seven-ton truck and behind wooden pallets stacked as a barrier, gladiators took cover from incoming fire. They popped up to return suppressive fire, and the soccer ball onslaught continued for nearly an hour.

Five members of the new TV series “American Gladiators,” Titan, Phoenix, Militia, Panther and Venom visited the Warlords of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 here Oct. 9.

“Being here is the best experience,” said Titan, a giant of a man, who played Thor in the original “American Gladiators” TV series. “It’s too surreal for us. Meeting the troops is one thing, but these guys are giving up their family, their kids and missing those moments. It’s amazing how much they give up.”

After lugging their baggage off the helicopters, they took a quick tour of the base and got settled into their rooms in the same compound where the Marines of the outpost sleep. They later visited the battalion communications shop to have lunch grilled by Master Sgt. Bill Cannon, communications chief, 2nd. Bn, 2nd Marines.

“It’s good to see the change that’s taking place here,” said Militia, who served in the Marines for four years. “I got this chance to come to Iraq. It was like a dream and just another chance to serve.”

Militia’s story with the Marine Corps began long before his years of service with them. As a young man and a native of Cuba, he longed for American citizenship and risked his life to get it. If not for Marines aboard a Navy vessel, he might not be here today.

“We just jumped in the water, me, my cousin and three friends,” he said of how he got out of Cuba. “Only I and one other survived. (Marines) saved us. They saved my life and took me to America to become an American citizen.

After lunch, the gladiators joined service members in the outpost gym to meet them, give fitness advice and sign autographs. They posed for photos in outlandish positions including chokeholds and headlocks, but the day’s main event was yet to come.

The Marine’s established a variation of the gladiator’s “Assault Course.” The course consisted of barriers comprised of wooden pallets, vehicles for cover and soccer balls for ammunition strategically placed throughout the course. The Marines dashed for their objective, orange road cones, while dodging soccer balls along the way.   

“The first time I watched ‘American Gladiators’ was years ago,” said Lance Cpl. William R. Thompson Jr., 21, an infantryman with the Warlords. “It was something I always thought would be cool to do and now I got to do it.”

The gladiators will soon be back in the U.S. to begin their new season of “American Gladiators” in January. During their next season, they will acknowledge the troops they’ve visited and the men and women that will serve overseas in the future.


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