News: National Guard celebrates 377 years of service, camaraderie and esprit de corps with physically challenging competition
Story by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Since Dec. 13, 1636, early American settlers who formed militias, some who became minutemen – a highly mobile, elite force of the military, would come together as volunteers to form the U.S. National Guard, protecting their land and homes.
Once again Guardsmen came together with teamwork and esprit de corps during the U.S. National Guard 5-kilometer race and Minuteman Challenge on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 14, 2013.
It concluded the Guard’s three-day, 377th birthday celebration, which consisted of a leadership dinner, a breakfast with soldiers and airmen, a cake cutting, a reenlistment ceremony, a race and the Minuteman Challenge, said U.S. Army Maj. Eric Luca, from Cleveland and an information officer for the 437th Military Police Battalion, Ohio Army National Guard. The U.S. National Guard Affairs – Afghanistan hosted the event and the 437th MP Bn. sponsored it.
The five-man team challenge was open to all U.S. servicemembers and civilians on BAF, said U.S. Guardsman Master Sgt. Edward LeDoux, senior career counselor/enlisted advisor for National Guard Affairs – Afghanistan. It consisted of six team events including: a 5k race, situps, pullups, ammo can squats, tires flips and burpees – a leg and chest endurance exercise.
Twenty teams competed, scoring points for final placing in the race and complete team repetitions at each of the five other events, added Luca.
Teams, some mixed with different servicemembers from different units, relied on each other for support and energy to complete each challenge, which was the basis for the challenge itself, said LeDoux.
“It was more than celebrating the Guard’s birthday, but a chance to give back to the BAF community,” said Luca.
“(The Guard) opened the challenge to everyone. We are one team with one fight,” explained LeDoux. “It’s an opportunity to bring together servicemembers who are spread across the U.S. to celebrate with healthy competition, building esprit de corps and teamwork while having fun.”
For the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, it did just that, as three teams from the brigade were represented at the challenge, bringing their competitive spirits with them, said Lt. Col. Mark Huhtanen, Black Jack deputy commander.
“It was fun and challenging, with the different events playing to different peoples strengths,” added Huhtanen.
Huhtanen remarked on what he felt was the most important part of the challenge – remembering military heritage.
“It was great to celebrate the National Guard’s birthday, after all Guard is an important part of our heritage,” said Huhtanen. “The challenge brought servicem embers together, which brought out the Warrior Ethos and Army Values.”
LeDoux said he was pleased overall with the challenge that took almost 40 U.S. service members and months of planning to incorporate it on BAF. His hopes are high another challenge will take place in the states for next year’s birthday celebration of the Guard.
A special thanks to the five committees that contributed to the overall setup of the challenge: National Guard Affairs - Afghanistan, 210th MP Co. from N.C., 198th Signal Group from Del., 437th MP Bn., 181st Field Artillery Bn. from Tenn. and the National Guard Military History Detachment, said LeDoux.
Winner of the challenge was team “Sappers In”, five members from the 130th Engineer Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with a score of more than 1500 points.
This work, National Guard celebrates 377 years of service, camaraderie and esprit de corps with physically challenging competition, by SGT Quentin Johnson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.