This is the door to one of the Bravo Co. soldiers' sleeping quarters at Sperwan Ghar. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

Grey skies, Air Red and rain are welcome at Sperwan Ghar. For the soldiers, inclement weather means no missions…a chance to sleep, perchance to dream…or play Call of Duty…or hide in a bunk and watch a movie.

For First Sergeant Wesley Bockert, 36, from Toledo, Ohio, a rainy day is is the perfect day for a race. For competition. For team building. And maybe a bit of debauchery.

“I wanted a different mindset to training out here,” Bockert said. “The problem with combat is you’re always in combat. When you mention training in combat, it feels like a task.”

He had created a set of competitions each week and each platoon had to give a squad to the competition. There was an IED lane, a Med lane, a mortar challenge.

With rain relentlessly tat-tat-tatting on the tin roofs at Sperwan Ghar, Bockert devised the Why the Hell Not? Games, a set of four competitions pitting the soldiers of the four platoons of Bravo Company against one another. There wouldn’t be any gold medals or prizes….only pride and bragging rights.

Lt. Miles Dunning, 23, of Hickory, N.C., served as the master of ceremonies.

The first competition, the pie-eating contest, became a corn-dog eating contest, when they discovered there were no pies available.

“We all know the best foods are shaped like penises,” Dunning said, joking about the last-minute switch to corn dogs.

In the first competition, a soldier from each of the four platoons would eat the corn dogs but another soldier would have to be his hands and feed them to him. 20 corn dogs. Spc. Jose Castaneda, eating the corn dogs, and Spc. Keith Petty, feeding Castaneda, won the competition. (I think. Correct me if I’m wrong. There was a dispute over the winner, as I recall.)

Soldiers compete in a corn dog eating competition, the first of four games in a series at Bravo Co. on Feb. 16, 2012. Each contestant must eat 20 corn dogs. The first to finish without throwing up wins. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

The second competition was called “Jack in the Box.” One soldier from each platoon would drink eight boxes of chocolate milk then he’d climb inside a container and four of his fellow soldiers would carry him once around the landing zone. Fourth platoon soldiers won the competition.

A Bravo Co. soldier downs a carton of chocolate milk, one of eight he'll need to drink, before squeezing into a box for a trip around the landing zone at Sperwan Ghar. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

As his fellow soldiers watch, Spc. Lindsey drains a box of chocolate milk in the "Jack-in-the-Box" competition, the second of four games in the "Why the Hell Not?" Games at Sperwan Ghar on Feb. 16, 2012. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

B. Co. soldiers carry a soldier in a box toward the finish line after a lap around the landing zone at Sperwan Ghar on Feb. 16, 2012. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

Soldiers near the finish line carrying a fellow B. Co. soldier in a box after a lap around the landing zone at Sperwan Ghar on Feb. 16, 2012. They were competing in the "Jack-in-the-Box" game. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

Bravo Co. soldiers race for the finish line in the "Jack-in-the-Box" competition. They're carrying a fellow soldier in the box. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

In the third competition, soldiers were required to eat the entire contents of a Meals Ready to Eat…right down to the powered apple cider mix and the tabasco sauce.

First Sergeant Wesley Bockert, center, watches the MRE eating competition on Feb. 16, 2012. Bockert created four competitions of the "Why the Hell Not?" Games. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

The first B. Co. soldier to eat everything in the Cheese Tortellini Meal Ready to Eat won the MRE eating contest on Feb. 16 2012. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

Pfc. Robert Christopher, right, 21, from Lafayette, La., uses his hands to eat the cheese tortellini in his MRE while Pfc. Trevor Blevins opts for a spoon. Blevins, from 2nd platoon, won the competition. Christopher took third place. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

Spc. Tyler Gilmour pauses during the MRE eating contest at Sperwan Ghar on Feb. 16, 2012. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

“It was horrible,” said Pfc.Robert Christopher, 21, from Layfayette, La. “I had acid reflux till midnight. I definitely don’t plan on eating any cheese tortellini anytime soon.”

The final contest required one soldier from each platoon to drink a total of 12 protein shakes and summit and descend the famous hill the Russians built at Sperwan Ghar three times.

I’ll spare you the photos of the puddles of pink puke along the hill trail as soldiers lost some of the protein shakes they ingested along the way. I’ll simply show you a photo of the eventual winner, Spc. Joshua Knight, of 3rd Platoon.

Spc. Joshua Knight, of 3rd platoon, makes his third and final ascent of the hill at Sperwan Ghar to win the fourth competition in the "Why the Hell Not?" games on Feb. 16, 2012. Knight left puddles of pink vomit along the trail as he regurgitated a fair amount of the 12 protein shakes he ingested during the competition. Copyright 2012 Cheryl Hatch

At the top of the hill after his second ascent, Knight spewed pink puke all over my shoes and trousers. That got a few laughs. Hazards of the job.

I saw him later outside his room and he said he’d been worrying about throwing up on me.

I told him that I was a college athlete and a Pac-10 Champion rower. I assured him that I knew something about puking after a grueling training or competition. No harm. No foul.

After the race, Knight had said the key to his win was conditioning, working out.

“You get used to it. It’s ain’t nothing,” he said. “Drive on.

“I’m gonna go wash up.”

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