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    Camaraderie flourishes at Sandhurst Competition

    Camaraderie flourishes at Sandhurst Competition

    Photo By Michelle Eberhart | Hundreds of future military leaders from around the globe came together at the U.S....... read more read more

    WEST POINT, NY, UNITED STATES

    04.13.2016

    Story by Michelle Eberhart 

    United States Military Academy at West Point

    Story by Michelle Eberhart
    Assistant Editor

    Sixty teams from around the world competed in the 49th annual Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at the U.S. Military Academy April 8-9.
    Over the course of the two days, 36 USCC teams, a USMAPS team, eight ROTC teams, three service academies and 12 international schools maneuvered a course of over 30 miles, challenging themselves in 14 events. While the competition lasted two days, the preparation took months.
    “We practiced five days a week,” Mekayla Korpinen of Company A-2 said. “That consisted of different training like grenade throwing, as well as running. Lots and lots of running.”
    Korpinen said they would do practice rucks as well as pushups and situps to gain strength and endurance for their long-awaited journey.
    “I got interested in Sandhurst because I knew it was a military skills test and it would really push me to do my best because I’ve never rucked 20 miles in one day before,” Korpinen added.
    Schools from countries all over the world had similar, intensive training schedules.
    “We did training five days a week,” Irfan Meral from the Turkish Military Academy said. He noted that his team trained to increase their physical fitness and then practiced Sandhurst-specific activities.
    “Detailed training, like hand grenades, the firing, the navigation, staying in the field at night, that kind of stuff,” Meral said.
    Aside from the physical aspects of training, some teams had assistance from other countries, allowing them to form relationships before Sandhurst even begun. Laruis Ozolinsh from Latvia said that his team received some training from the United States Army.
    “We worked with the American units that were stationed in Latvia,” Ozolinsh said. “It was 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and the guys trained us on medical training, as well as rifle marksmanship with M4’s and M16’s.
    “We had really great relationships with the American medics as well as the Seargant Major from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. They supported us throughout the event, gave us the knowledge that we need to compete here,” Ozolinsh added. “We had a great time, real fun training with them.”
    Whether it be before the Sandhurst competition or during it, teams across the world grew to learn about and respect one another.
    Avik Alam of Company E-2 said his company hosted the German Military Academy throughout the week, allowing him to learn about their culture and their preparation going into Sandhurst.
    “I feel like everyone is kind of in the same boat,” Alam said. “Everyone works and trains hard for this competition and we all have similar goals.”
    Bing Bing Xie from Company A-4 agreed.
    “We all have a common bond of Sandhurst. At the end of the day, we’re all competing in the same competition and I think it’s a unifying event,” Xie said. “We have a lot of respect for all of our opponents out there because we know first-hand what kind of sacrifices we had to make to get to this point and we know every other team has put in that same work.
    “There’s definitely a level of respect, and it’s really awesome seeing all the different countries here and how they operate. It’s really cool just trading information and talking to them and seeing things from a different perspective,” Xie added.
    While learning about other teams, some countries were even able to pick up a couple tips.
    “We’re excited specifically for the Americans, we’ve learned all of your secrets,” Cadet Wesley Walsh of the Royal Military College of Duntroon in Australia said. Walsh and his teammates spent the week at West Point with the C-4 Cowboys, who showed them the facilities and some Sandhurst tricks.
    Walsh said that the weekend of camaraderie will help their future interaction with other countries.
    “It’s commonly accepted back home in Australia that the multicultural presence on the battlefield today is something that is very common, if not the norm,” Walsh said. “And so acting in a coalition environment is encouraged, brought from our basic training all the way to staff officers on the senior level.”
    Competitors gathered Friday morning to check their rucks and discuss a game plan with their teammates before they began their two-day trek.
    During the course of the first day’s 20-mile journey, they competed in five events, each testing their military skill set.
    The first day’s events were functional fitness, rifle marksmanship, conducting movement to contact to clear enemy forces, evaluating a casualty and throwing hand grenades. Teams received a score for each event with a greater emphasis on the marksmanship events.
    Throughout the night, four more events ensued including reconnaissance, evaluating a casualty, moving a disabled vehicle and CFF.
    On Saturday morning, the final day of Sandhurst, cadets completed the final five events: the Anzio obstacle course, the water crossing, CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear), transporting a casualty and the gun run.
    The second day’s focus was overall speed and land navigation ability throughout the 11-mile slog. Their scores were based off how long it took them to complete the routes and navigate continuously throughout the day.
    For the duration of the afternoon, the finish line was flooded with spectators, holding flags and signs, cheering on the incoming competitors.
    Even though teams were exhausted from the tribulations of their journeys, each group ran as quickly as they could through finish line with their teammates.
    “You become really close with people really fast,” Roberto Huie of Company B-1 said after the competition. Huie is no stranger to the challenges of Sandhurst, but he said this year was arguably the roughest.
    “The competition this year was pretty tough, it was a little different from previous years, whereas (before) it’s been more running based, this year was a lot of rucking based,” Huie said. “So we’ve covered more distance than I ever have the past four years.”
    Charles Davis from Penn State ROTC also noted that it was the roughest Sandhurst he’s competed in over the last three years. However, he mentioned that the experience was rewarding and strong bonds were formed.
    “You definitely form a new kind of friendship, it’s nothing like your friends back home or from school,” Davis said. “You have to work together, you push yourself through some of the hardest physical and mental challenges you’ve ever been through, so it’s definitely a different kind of friendship, it’s almost like a family out there.”
    Aside from the vigorous training and difficult two-day expedition, it’s clear that Sandhurst helped form unbreakable relationships, both within teams and amongst all 60 teams.
    Ultimately, the Royal Military Academy of Canada came in first place overall to earn the Reginald E. Johnson Memorial Plaque, Texas A&M won the ROTC Cup and Company H-3 finished the fastest of all the USCC Cadet Companies and earned the best USCC Streamer.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.13.2016
    Date Posted: 04.14.2016 11:12
    Story ID: 195383
    Location: WEST POINT, NY, US 

    Web Views: 244
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