News: NC Guard engineers compete in annual Sapper Stakes event
STEM, N.C. – Sappers are some of the most innovative explosive and technical minds in the military. Every year, the North Carolina National Guard has a competition to determine who amongst these experienced professionals as the best and brightest of the combat engineers.
Soldiers in the 105th Engineer Battalion competed in the unit’s annual Sapper Stakes event Sept. 14, at Camp Butner National Guard Training Center here where they were evaluated on engineering skills and warrior tasks.
Sapper Stakes is a timed event in which teams of five soldiers must use land navigation skills to find various points throughout a pre-plotted land navigation course.
At each point, teams were scored on their proficiency in a number of tasks including, evaluating and evacuating a casualty, setting up a hasty checkpoint, setting up a demolition system, operating communications equipment, and maintaining military vehicles and weapons.
“This [event] tests both common skills related tasks with engineer tasks,” said Capt. Patrick Henderson, the battalion’s operations officer (S3). “As a team-level event, this really builds unit esprit de corps.”
Henderson was responsible for organizing the team who set up this year’s Sapper Stakes competition. Overall, 140 soldiers from eight units participated in the event.
Henderson said that Sapper Stakes is unique to the 105th Engineer Battalion because it helps to validate the engineer’s skills in their common core capabilities.
Two teams from Headquarters Company claimed the first and the third place spot overall at Sapper Stakes this year. The team from the 725th Engineer Support Platoon came in second.
Spc. George Yates, a combat engineer from Headquarters Company, 105th EN BN, was a member of the winning team.
“Communication, teamwork, the will to not give up, and making their Company and peers proud,” were all reasons cited by Yates on his team’s victory.
In the months leading up to the event, Yates’ team made sure they were ready by staying extra hours after weekend drill and annual training days to practice events that would be tested at Sapper Stakes.
The 105th Engineer Battalion is part of the North Carolina National Guard’s 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and is commanded by Lt. Col. Luke Burnett and Command Sgt. Maj. William Creech.
The Battalion consists of the 883rd Sapper Company, 171st Sapper Company, 151st Movement Augmentation Company, 881st Engineer Support Company, Headquarters Company, Forward Support Company, 725th Engineer Support Platoon, 258th Engineer Detachment, and 429th Engineer Detachment.