FORT STEWART — Soldiers, civilians, children and adults infiltrated Fort Stewart’s Newman Gym on Saturday for the Father’s Day Knockout, many eager to see a good fight. Others, however, saw the event as an opportunity to bond with family members.
Jennifer Pyle’s husband James is currently deployed with the 2nd BCT to Iraq. She said having her husband away at Father’s Day was difficult for her and her two children, James, 8 and Kristin, 4.
The event offered a welcome distraction.
"It’s rough, but we try and stay busy so it’s not as rough," Pyle said. "For my kids, it was free and it was a good time."Pyle said her son watched with delight as the program opened. The first segment featured children mixed martial arts fighters.
"I liked it when they fought each other," James Pyle said with a grin.
Diego Guauque, who returned from Iraq about six months ago, said his son Steven, 8, has taken martial arts courses, but had never been to an MMA fight.
"He was in martial arts before and he loves wrestling and these kinds of activities," Guauque said. "They train hard and that is why we are here to support them. It means a lot because it gave me an excellent opportunity to be with my son."
"I’ve seen them on TV," Guauque’s son shouted. "I love UFC."
Patrick Phillips, with the third sustainment 632 maintenance company, said it was his first MMA experience.
"One of the things that we constantly train for is combative," he said. "And that is basically a derivative of MMA."
He said he wished his father, Patrick Phillips Sr., could have joined him for the Father’s Day showcase, but said his medical condition forced him to stay in Jacksonville.
Trachel Green said her supervisor, Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin, convinced her to attend the event.
"He is always pushing us to come out and support the events that come on post," she said. "I’ve never seen an MMA fight so I came to see what it is all about. I see all the little kids and see they are excited. It’s something different. I came up watching Junkyard Dog and Hulk Hogan wrestling, so this is new to me. It’s good to see all the families come out and spend time together. It’s good to see the cohesion."
Amanda Garcia’s husband, Christopher Fortier, also is deployed to Iraq. She said her friend Nicole Hunter begged her to come to the event, claiming it would lift her spirits.
"It keeps our mind off of things," Garcia said. "And it’s something to do instead of staying home and moping."
Holding her daughter Jessenia, the young mother said they both enjoyed the fights.
"She kept saying, ‘Mommy, I want to go and fight,’" Garcia said.