Gwinnett chapter of Sentinels of Freedom to hold Armed services softball tournament

The Army. The Navy. The Air Force. The Marines.

All will clash on a much tamer "field of battle" May 25 as the newly established Gwinnett chapter of the Sentinels of Freedom holds an interservice slow-pitch softball matchup at Bunten Road Park in Duluth.

"It's a fun way to honor the troops, raise a few bucks, and expose the community to basically who we are, and what we're planning on doing," said Jess Vics, chairman of public relations for the Sentinels.

So what are the group's plans for the proceeds?

"Our job is to make sure (wounded) troops do not incur costs," Vics said.

Sentinels of Freedom, he explained, was started in California in 2004 by the father of an Army Ranger injured in Iraq.

"(The founders) started getting a little upset about how the military was treating their most severely wounded," Vics said. "We're talking about troops that are 100 percent disabled."

While the U.S. government, after releasing these soldiers from medical care, often leaves them to fend for themselves, the Sentinels seek to "become their friends for four years," Vics said.

"We're gonna see to it that they get a home - no charge of course," he said, "a vehicle, if they can drive it. ... We're going to give them up to four years of college education with two of the colleges in our Gwinnett area, and we're going to do life coaching. ... 'Welcome back home' kinda stuff."

The winner of the four-way interservice rivalry will be determined tournament-style.

"We're gonna have an Army-Navy softball game at 1:00," Vics said, "an Air Force-Marine game at 3:30, and the winners of the two first games will meet at 6 for the final trophy and the bragging rights."

The big prize, dubbed the Top Gun Title, will be bestowed upon the victor by a "General Officer and War Hero," according to a press release.

But despite dubbing the tourney a "Battle of the Warriors," Vics said no bad blood will be on display from any faction.

"There's nothing serious about it," he said. "We're gonna have families, food and fun ... Just a great, fun day."

SideBar: If you go

n Who: Gwinnett Sentinels of Freedom

What: "Battle of the Warriors" interservice slow-pitch softball tournament

When: 1 p.m. May 25

Where: Field 4 at Bunten Road Park, 3180 Bunten Road, Duluth

Cost: $25, which includes Sentinels T-shirt

For more information:

E-mail Karen Love at sentinelsoffreedom@charter.net