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    Competing on the Coast

    Competing on the coast

    Photo By Capt. Saska Ball | Soldiers make their way onto the beach to complete the 10k foot march during the 350th...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Saska Ball 

    U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)

    JOINT EXPEDITIONARY BASE LITTLE CREEK-FORT STORY, Va.– Mental and physical toughness and endurance were put to the test as 29 Soldiers competed in the Best Warrior Competition held jointly by two Civil Affairs Commands from March 23 to 27, 2014.

    Working closely together, the 350th CACOM based in Pensacola, Fla. and the 353rd CACOM based in Staten Island, N.Y., convened on the coast of Virginia to present a challenging five-day schedule of events for the competitors.

    The Soldiers started with a written essay on Army values followed early the next morning by the Army Physical Fitness Test. Still exhausted by the short night, Soldiers had just enough time to eat breakfast, grab their rucksacks and hit the urban orienteering course. They were given a map of the area and 15 points to find while maneuvering their way along the six-mile course.

    From there, the competitors moved immediately to the next event, Warrior Training Tasks, where they were tested on their basic warrior skills. This event tested their ability to shoot a back azimuth, send a situational report, evaluate a casualty, identify a terrain feature, and request a 9-line medical evacuation. This was followed by the first of two mystery events, where competitors were required put on their protective masks, carry a heavy sandbag 50 meters and back, and then perform a functions test on an M-16 rifle.

    The next mystery event was the “box-o-guns” task, where parts from two weapons, the M9 pistol and M16 rifle, were mixed together in a box. Soldiers were then timed on their ability to sort out and re-assemble the weapons.

    Tuesday began with the obstacle course consisting of several physically demanding obstacles testing the Soldiers’ skills in strength, agility and endurance by climbing, low-crawling and running. After maneuvering the grueling course in unseasonably cold, bitter winds, competitors moved on to compete in combatives.

    Soldiers were outside the next morning putting on the required 40-pound rucksack and getting ready to compete in the road march. The 6.2 road march took them through the roads of the base ending with an 800-meter path across the beach, where the competitors faced cold and sandy winds blowing off the Atlantic Ocean.

    Spc. Matthew Mangano, of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, 353rd CACOM, who placed first in the road march, also plays football and lacrosse as a student at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. He said that he trained for the road march by running while wearing a weighted jacket. “The BWC was mentally and physically challenging and there were so many good competitors. It was definitely an awesome experience and it was great meeting all of the other competitors,” he said.

    The competition culminated in an appearance before the board of Sergeants Major where the Soldiers were grilled on their military knowledge.

    Although the competition was fierce, the Soldiers developed a strong sense of camaraderie for each other.

    Sgt. Sara Matos, of the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade located in San Antonio, 350th CACOM said, “I’m not very competitive but I like to challenge myself. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone so you can progress. It was what I hoped for and more. Although we were competing, we developed a fellowship.”

    Each Soldier had a sponsor from their unit to help prepare them for the competition and give them guidance and encouragement throughout the events.

    Spc. Thomas Sears and his Sponsor, Staff Sgt. Monique Cain, both with the 350th CACOM, agreed that it was a learning experience for both of them and will help prepare Sears for the competition next year.

    The winners were announced at the banquet held in honor of the competitors. Spc. Shad A. Barrows, 413th Civil Affairs Battalion located in Lubbock, Texas, and Staff Sgt. Josue Toledano, 410th Civil Affairs Battalion located in El Paso, Texas, both won the competition for the 350th CACOM. Spc. Mathew Mangano, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion based in Danbury, Conn., and Sgt. Toan Pham, 415th Civil Affairs Battalion based in Kalamazoo, Mich., both won the competition for the 353rd CACOM.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy E. Gray, command sergeant major of the 350th CACOM, said, “Once again this year the 350th and 353rd CACOMs integrated seamlessly to put on a world class event. The opportunity for our Soldiers to compete against each other is further enhanced by competing against their fellow Soldiers of a sister CACOM. I continue to be amazed at the spirit of the Soldiers of today’s Army and believe our future is in good hands.”



    Date Taken: 03.27.2014
    Date Posted: 04.13.2014 14:17
    Story ID: 125722
    Hometown: DANBURY, CT, US
    Hometown: FORT STORY, VA, US
    Hometown: LUBBOCK, TX, US
    Hometown: PENSACOLA, FL, US
    Hometown: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, US

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