Iraq War Veterans' 10-Year Reunion

$10,310 of $9,095 goal

Raised by 130 people in 27 months
Justin C. Cliburn  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
Long story short: Check out this Yahoo! article on our efforts to use the fantasy football league we started in Baghdad to organize a 10-year reunion for every soldier on that mission: Football, Wartime, and an Uncommonly Important Fantasy League .

Long story shorter:
We are planning a 10-year reunion for men who experienced memories like this one in Iraq:
StoryCorps: The Nature of War  (click to watch the YouTube version; over 220,000 views so far).

Who: OklahomIraqis League
, an Oklahoma non-profit organization created to help the soldiers of the 1st Battalion 158th FA unit who spent Dec. 2005 to Dec. 2006 in Iraq as part of a Security Force (SECFOR) mission.

What: 10-year reunion for soldiers who spent a year in Iraq together. This includes gas money, airfare, lodging, t-shirts, food, drink, and a charter bus to and from the stadium.

When: Labor Day Weekend, September 4-7, 2015

Where: Bricktown Oklahoma City; Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Why: Since we've returned, many of us have lost touch. Already, two soldiers from that mission have passed away, and one of our soldiers almost died on a later deployment . Many of them are still in the Army. We need to get together, reconnect, and share old stories before anyone else passes away or faces yet another deployment. 

But why so much money? We've done the math, and here is a breakdown of expenses: 

Airfare for far-flung members: $3,874

Lodging (seven two-bed rooms for two nights): $1,942.77.84 (already booked and paid for)

Gas money for out-of-staters: $858

Charter bus to AT&T Cowboys Stadium: $1,487 (booked and paid for)

Food and drink: $500

Sub-Total: $8,661.77

5% GoFundMe fee: $433.08

Total: $9,094.85

Since our year in Iraq, we've used the fantasy football league we started in Baghdad in 2006  to keep in touch. We've even used it to chronicle our year overseas through our own oral history project: http://www.okiraqi.org/blog/secfor-an-oral-history-of-the-oklahomiraqis-league . Now, we're trying to use our league website to reach out and get as many of the 150 remaining members of that mission together for a much-needed reunion. 


About us: In Fall 2006, the men of the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 1st Bn 158 FA were in Iraq, missing the upcoming football season. Someone suggested a fantasy football league to help pass the time, and the OklahomIraqis League was born. With 10 teams spread from Baghdad to Diwaniyah, the soldiers spent the last weeks of their deployment using the league as a welcome distraction from the sectarian war that led to "the surge."  


After returning to the U.S. in December 2006, no one gave the fate of the league much thought until August of the following year, when Pyle emailed the commissioner to ask about another round of OklahomIraqis football. Since then, we've had coaches drop out and jump in, leave and re-join, and deploy to Iraq and back again. Most importantly, the league is the main way many of the members keep in touch with those brothers-in-arms they served with in Iraq.

In late 2013, the league was rocked by the death of someone who spent that year in Iraq with us in 2006. The funeral brought together members of that 2006 mission. Shortly afterwards, the commissioner and co-commissioner decided to start a second OklahomIraqis League. The league expanded to 14 more franchises and added conferences. The AFC began play in 2014. Then, in late 2014, another member of that 2006 mission passed away. The league honors him by competing for the Tenequer Memorial Trophy  in week 17.


The original league includes seven of the original 10 members, 12 veterans of the 2005-2006 deployment, and 13 current or former 158th FA soldiers. All 14 were Army soldiers. And, while some still wear the uniform, most have moved on to a diverse mix of careers.  The AFC's 14 members are all veterans of that 2006 mission. Every Fall, they are all OklahomIraqis again, vying for the Harrington, Killman, and Tenequer trophies. But, most of all, they keep in touch with each other through the fake football matchups they compete in each Fall.

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Update 109
Posted by Justin C. Cliburn
18 months ago
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1
1
Thank you to EVERYONE who helped these guys reunite this weekend!
Just one of many reunions
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Update 108
Posted by Justin C. Cliburn
19 months ago
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26 days until the reunion! I can't believe it's been 10 years. Thanks everyone!
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Update 107
Posted by Justin C. Cliburn
19 months ago
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Thank you to everyone helping us make this the best reunion possible! We've met our goal, but that goal didn't include the costs at Cowboys Stadium or hotel rooms for every single member, so thank you for continuing to support us even after the goal was reached! We're less than a month away from the reunion now.
+ Read More
Update 106
Posted by Justin C. Cliburn
19 months ago
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$10,310 of $9,095 goal

Raised by 130 people in 27 months
Created January 4, 2015
$30
Anonymous
19 months ago(Offline Donation)
1
1
$25
Anonymous
19 months ago
1
1
CH
$25
Cathy hamilton
19 months ago
1
1

Thank you for putting your lives on the line in service to our country. I don't want to take our freedom for granted. Hope you enjoy your game!

JJ
$10
Jason Jaworski
19 months ago
1
1
CD
$20
C.J. Daugherty
19 months ago
1
1

Thanks for your service and have a great reunion! God Bless you!

BM
$100
BEERI MEZA
19 months ago
1
1
JB
$100
Jonathan Bennett
19 months ago
1
1

God bless men...thank you for your service to this great country!

BW
$50
Brian Whitman
19 months ago
1
1

Oorah fellas! Can't thank you all enough for your service. I hope you have a blast at the reunion.

JW
$50
Jeffrey Worley
19 months ago
1
1

My son is in the Idaho Guard and I want to say thank you to all of your for your service and sacrifice!

$100
Anonymous
19 months ago
1
1
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