MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
A Yuma Marine joined the U.S. Southern Command baseball team for their 2nd Annual Baseball Partnership Tour to Latin America to enhance relations with other countries through baseball and community service.
Cpl. Benjamin Chido IV, team pitcher and Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 heavy equipment operator, left March 27, 2009, to participate in the tour.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play baseball with other countries, while actively helping foreign nations and affairs, said Chido.
“It’s a unique opportunity to go to partner nations and share the common interest of baseball while helping with community work,” said Capt. Eliezer Santana, team captain. “It’s a different avenue to positively engage with other military groups.”
During the tour the team will visit Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile and the Dominican Republic. The U.S. Military Group, a compilation of U.S. Embassy teams, will host the tour with the respective country.
“There’s more to it than just baseball,” said Chido. “It’s promoting the building of bridges to Third World countries.”
The team will also visit clinics, schools, orphanages, hospitals and little leagues while also performing exhibition games against military and non military baseball teams from each partner nation.
Early this year, Chido came across the 20th Red White and Blue Tour Web site and went to an open tryout Feb. 28 in San Diego. The tour is headed by the U.S. Military All-Stars, including players from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Due to operational commitments, Chido was unable to participate in that tour, but was referred to Santana to play on USSOUTHCOM’s team.
It’s awesome to be afforded this opportunity, said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Olchawa, Chido’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge.
“It’s public relations with our Latin American allies,” said Olchawa. “Baseball is a common interest that brings us closer to these other nations.”
Last year, the team visited the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Panama.
Chido has played baseball throughout grade school and made it to the national championship tournament in one of the largest, non profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the U.S.—the Amateur Athletic Union.
The Buffalo, N.Y., native pitched for Hamburg High school his junior and senior year and went on to play in the Empire State games representing the western region of New York. He played for Hofstra University before joining the Marine Corps in 2005.
The team is scheduled to return to the states April 24.