“Like most good ideas, this one started in a bar,” said O’Boyle. “A couple of months ago, we were trying to think of a way we could say thanks to all the things the Marines do for us.”
The biggest challenge of coordinating the event was trying to figure out how to get 1,500 pounds of crawfish all the way to Japan.
“Initially, they wanted to fly in live crawfish and all this other stuff, so it was really difficult to do,” said 1st Lt. Oscar A. Martinez, MALS-12 ground support equipment division officer here.
Martinez worked with Jeffery Flemming, MALS-12 family readiness officer, to coordinate a plan of action with MCCS to provide the main entree.
“In the end we couldn’t get that crawfish flown here for legal reasons, so Marine Corps Community Services said they would put everything together,” said Martinez.
After months of planning and coordination with MCCS and MALS-12, the idea hatched into a planned event to include a flag football game between service members, free food and a crawfish eating contest.
“MCCS did a brilliant job with all the tents and providing all the resources needed to put this together,” said O’Boyle.
Noncommissioned officers played flag football against staff noncommissioned officers and won 20-0.
During the day, free food and drinks were made readily available to all attendees until the crawfish were ready to be served.
Once prepared, dozens of pounds of crawfish were poured into long trays for an all-you-can-eat buffet of mudbugs.
Eventually, the event launched into a full-fledged eating contest between contestants who dared to fill their stomachs with as many mudbugs as they could devour.
After 10 minutes of rabid twisting, chewing and swallowing, Lance Cpl. William Phillips, ground support equipment structure mechanic with MALS-12, and Elliott Gruhn tied after each consumed 233 crawfish.
The contestants were given an additional five minutes to settle the score. In the end, Elliot Gruhn demolished an additional 83 mudbugs and defeated Phillips.
“I’m from Texas, and we eat crawfish all the time,” said Elliot Gruhn. “I love it.”
O’Boyle, Paul and Elliot Gruhn each received a challenge coin and plaque from Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
“It’s very heart warming to see that Americans will think about the Marines all the way in Japan,” said Fox. “That’s the great thing about the Marine Corps. We take all these Marines from the West Coast, East Coast, and Midwest and integrate them together. They get to experience different foods and this is one of those opportunities.”
Paul Gruhn and O’Boyle plan to do more fundraising to hold similar events in the future for service members of all branches to show their appreciation of the protection service members provide for the U.S. and other host nations.
Originally published: Marines.mil