News: Marne Air leaders test orienteering skill in Falcon Rogaine
Story by Sgt. William Begley
FORT STEWART, Ga. – The command teams from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade withstood heat, humidity, and subtropical terrain as they competed against each other in the first inaugural Falcon Rogaine on Fort Stewart May 29.
Not to be confused with the hair loss product of the same name, Rogaine is a sport of long distance cross-country land navigation. The competitions are held all over the world and can last as long as 24 hours.
“Team building, really is the number one thing this is about,” said Col. John D. Kline, commander, 3rd CAB. “We will also get a little [physical training], and some land navigation refresher training.”
Kline also warned the crowd of aviators not to use any unnecessary assets to locate points.
“If we see any OH-58’s flying over dropping smoke it will look very suspicious,” Kline said jokingly.
The officer in charge of the Rogaine was Capt. Paul Caston, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation regiment, maintenance platoon leader. Caston outlined the rules stating the contestants had a two hour time limit to find as many points as possible with three different levels of difficulty. Contestants would also be penalized for every ten minutes they were late. Caston talked about the unique challenges of setting up this particular event.
“It was interesting coming down here to Fort Stewart and setting up a land navigation range and having to figure out which swamps have alligators, and which ones don’t,” said Caston. “Some of the swamps are two feet deep and stay that way for hundreds of feet at a time.”
Each team consisted of a battalion or brigade commander, command sergeant major, and chief warrant officer of the battalion or brigade. While most team’s personnel were the actual position holders themselves, some had representation taking their place.
The winning team came from the command team of 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment. Lt. Col. Geoffrey Whittenberg, commander, Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Carrico, senior standardization instructor pilot, and 1st Sgt. Jose Lopez-Olivera, senior noncommissioned officer.
“You learn a lot over two hours going through adversity, like what your strengths and weaknesses are as a small team,” said Whittenberg.
When asked if he thought being in the Cavalry gave his team an advantage, Whittenberg said yes without hesitation.
“Being in the Cavalry is always an advantage for us, “ said Whittenberg. “We’re all scouts and we know what to look for.”
The recent weather brought the humidity up to its sweaty Georgia summer level, which also increased the insect activity. Caston said the mosquitoes were stinging him through his Army Combat Uniform and heavy insect repellent. These were just a few of the obstacles that everyone endured together.
“I think the misery we all experienced at the same time brought us together as a team,” said Lopez-Olivera. “Everyone shares in the same struggles and heartaches when we get out there.”
The aviation subject matter expert of the Cavalry, Carrico said it was good to brush up on basic Soldiering skills, and get out of the office or cockpit for a change.
“I think it’s good we can still get out and prove to the Soldiers in our unit that we still have some legitimacy,” said Carrico. “We’re salty and older, but we still have legitimate experience that we can share with them.”