News: Army Warrior Challenge ‘about heart’ for Michigan National Guard Soldiers
Story by Sgt. 1st Class ADAM SWAGER
GRAYLING, Mich. - Four military police companies from around Michigan convened this week on Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, for the Army Warrior Challenge (AWC), a five-day course designed to test the Soldiers’ basic skills and to push them to their physical and mental limits.
Forty-seven teams from the 1776th MP Company (Taylor), the 1775th MP Company (Pontiac) 144th MP Company (Corunna), and the 46th MP Company (Cheboygan) began the AWC course with a physical fitness test Sunday evening. The lanes over the next three days included day and night maneuver lanes, evidence preservation and reporting lanes, a driving course with black-out lights and other Warrior Tasks to test their mettle. Weapons lanes included weapons assembly while blindfolded, reflexive fire and 9mm Pistol qualification lanes to ensure the MPs remained sharp with their weapons as well.
The AWC was organized by the 210th MP Battalion (Taylor). “These troops rucked over 30-miles this week, carrying their weapons between lanes, completing each task and moving out to the next lane. It’s about more than just skill; it’s about heart,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth A. Dilg, the 210th MP Battalion commander about the grueling conditions his Soldiers endured.
The lower-enlisted Soldiers represent each company in the AWC each year, and the stakes were high. “There’s a traveling plaque that goes to the winning team at the end of the competition, and that plaque stays with the company until the next Warrior Challenge. This gives bragging-rights over all the other companies for the rest of the year,” said Dilg.
The AWC culminated on day four with the Warrior Dash, a twelve-leg shuttle-run over gravel and dust. The three-member teams flipped LMTV tires, carried 20-foot beams, six five-gallon water cans and each other on litters over the 40-meter course. The last leg involved pushing a five-ton up-armored HMMWV and driver past the 40-meter line; a daunting task for anyone. “These Soldiers have been marching all week long,” said Capt. Mandy Sullivan, commander of HHC, 210th MP Battalion. “They’re really digging deep to finish this race. That’s what the Warrior Dash is all about.”
Not all competitors made it to the final dash. Of the 47 teams, only 38 made it to day four of the competition. Pvt. Joshua Stinson, 2nd Platoon, 1775th MP Company, who was teamed up with Pfc. Robert Borton from 1st Platoon lost his team leader, Sgt. Angela Mossoian, to a shoulder injury on day two. “When Sgt. Mossoian got hurt, we did what we could to keep the team intact. We’d carry her rucksack from station to station but when she couldn’t make it any further, we chose to keep going with a team of two,” said Stinson. Although Stinson and Borton faced point-penalties at each lane for missing a team member, they arrived on the last day only 12 places back. Stinson credits Borton for their performance. “He’s the reason we’ve made it this far.”
The 210th MP Battalion wanted to recognize the additional efforts made by Soldiers like Stinson and Borton. “We wanted to recognize those Soldiers that gave the most heart,” said Dilg. “So we decided to create an award named after a Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sgt. Nicky Bacon.” Bacon, who gallantly fought in Vietnam in 1968, died in July 2010. Announcement of this award is scheduled for later this year.
When the dust finally settled on the battlefield, one team stood above all others. Team 13 consisting of Sgt. Prescott Ingraham, Spc. Cody Martin and Spc. Scott St. John of the 46th MP Company emerged the winners of the 2014 Army Warrior Challenge, winning the plaque from the 1775th MP Company and heading back to Cheboygan victorious.