News: Super squad competition pushes Marines to the limit
Story by Cpl. Shawn Valosin
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - They were on call for nearly a week, the anticipation building, until finally, at 2 a.m., the call came. All squad leaders were ordered to report to the armory with their Marines.
After checking out weapons, six squads of Marines with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group threw on their packs and started a day that would push them to their limits here, April 17.
The super squad competition pitted the six squads against each other in a battle of endurance and wits. It combined a six mile hike with gear, through rugged terrain, land navigation and even the “Kim’s game,” a memory challenge where individuals are given a short period of time to look at random items placed in a specific order and have to recall the placement of those items after completing other challenges. The Marines also participated in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear exercises and squad movements across an additional six miles of muddy, back-road routes around base.
“‘Every Marine a rifleman’ … it’s true, but along with rifle marksmanship there are a number of other core competencies which every Marine should pride himself in – land navigation, basic first aid, proper actions in a contaminated environment, medium weapons assembly and disassembly, and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program,” said Lt. Col. Craig Clemans, a Valparaiso, Ind., native and the commanding officer of 2nd Maintenance Bn. “This competition put all these skills to the test while under intense physical duress.”
The squads trudged through muddy swamps and the forest on their quest, only stopping briefly to gulp some water.
Following the initial six mile hike, leaders from each squad crested a hill and got a glimpse of items for the “Kim’s game.” Course guides then gave the teams grid coordinates and kicked off another series of timed challenges against the other squads.
“We wanted to foster the spirit of competition and esprit de corps while building camaraderie amongst the companies and reinforcing basic military skills,” said Capt. David Peck, a Flushing, Mich., native and operations officer for 2nd Maintenance Bn. “Each of the squad leaders are hand selected, and they’re probably the best sergeant in each company. Their job is the most difficult because they have to keep their Marines’ heart in it. They have to pick themselves up and keep going, and they have to motivate their Marines and still be thinking the whole time … it’s a thinking man’s game, not just a physical fitness exercise.”
The Marines pushed through the first six miles only to face even more hiking. As they moved back into the woods, the squads entered their contaminated environment challenge and donned their protective suits and masks.
They continued forward, lugging gear and machine guns through the woods. The suits heated up their bodies as their muscles began to feel the strain.
They stopped part way and completed a series of weapons disassembly challenges. Marines took turns working on the heavy machine guns and traded places as team members stretched out their cramping muscles.
They were still pushing through the course more than twelve hours after the original call that started the challenge. Near 3 p.m., teams continued to trickle to the final station from their routes before they could head back to the starting point, where a martial arts challenge and the conclusion to the “Kim’s game” waited.
At the end of the day, Electronic Maintenance Company, led by squad leader Sgt. Charles Taylor, was declared the winner. They covered more than 12 miles while carrying approximately 60 pounds of gear.
Beyond even that, the course tested the leadership qualities, character and grit of the battalion’s Marines, said Clemans.
“It provided a platform from which the NCO's displayed their dynamic leadership, the junior Marines their iron-willed determination, and each company, a representation of their selfless teamwork,” he concluded.