News: 308th Brigade Support Battalion celebrates its tradition and history
Story by Capt. Tania Donovan
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers of the 308th Brigade Support Battalion celebrate their units’ 71st birthday through the 3rd Annual Gunga Din Competition Aug. 1, 2014.
The 308th Brigade Support Battalion, the “Red Lions,” was first constituted Feb. 23, 1943, in the United States Army as the 308th Quartermaster Sterilization Battalion and activated on 26 April 1943 at Vancouver Barracks, Washington.
The competition is named after a poem that is a rhyming narrative from the point of view of an English Soldier in India. The poem is about an Indian water-bearer who saves the Soldier's life but is then shot and killed. In the final three lines, the Soldier regrets the abuse that he dealt to “Din” and admits that “Din” is the better man of the two for sacrificing his own life to save another.
The “Gunga Din” represents the sacrifices and hard work of the 308th BSB as a support battalion of dedicated professionals. The 308th BSB currently supports logistical operations across the 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
Soldiers began the day of competition by receiving a briefing from Lt. Col. Daniel Ellinger, 308th Brigade Support battalion commander. They had their rucksacks weighed to make sure they were not less than 50 pounds and the competition was kicked off by the Soldiers stepping onto the course as teams.
The goal? Pretty simple: to be the first team to complete all obstacles along the route. Along the course the teams reacted to mock gas attacks by dawning their gas masks and continued marching along to encounter a number of physically demanding obstacles that included reacting to injuries, climbing ropes, and pushing military vehicles. The teams took, on average, three to four hours to complete the rigorous, team-building course.
The unit was re-designated June 15, 2005, as the 308th Support Battalion and activated July 18, 2007, at Fort Lewis, Washington. There it became the brigade support battalion for the reorganized and re-designated modular 17th Fires Brigade (now the 17th Field Artillery Brigade), part of I Corps.
This is the third year that the 308th BSB celebrates its birthday by having its Soldiers compete in the exclusive “Gunga Din Competition.”