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    Salvadoran Machinegun

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Gordon | Cpl. Rudy Santos Santos of Comando Especial Antiterrorista of the El Salvadoran Army...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Brian Gordon 

    114th Public Affairs Detachment

    Cpl. Rudy Santos and Staff Sgt. Jose Bolaños, instructors with an anti-terrorist unit of the Salvadoran army, were invited to compete in this year’s BWC, finishing strongly in several events.

    Santos won the 2-mile run portion of the physical training test and dominated the 12-mile ruck march beginning and ending at Fort Constitution, finishing far ahead of his nearest competitor and countryman Bolaños.

    It was the first time foreign soldiers participated in the contest. El Salvador is New Hampshire National Guard’s state partner. Throughout the nearly 20-year relationship, NH guardsmen have regularly trained with their Salvadoran counterparts.

    “This started as a conversation between me and one of the Salvadoran sergeant majors over lunch during an exchange trip,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Lore Ford. “Like all good military members we got a little competitive. I said that my soldiers were better and he said that his were. It turned into, ‘well let’s see,’ in a friendly way that brought us together.”

    Together the NH Army Guard and Salvadoran competitors endured and conquered all obstacles, encouraging each other along the way.

    “Santos was a beast on that ruck march,” said Spc. Jack Settele of Mountain Company, winner of the Best Soldier category. “He just tore it up.”

    Despite cold temperatures and high winds on the first day, quite different than what they’re used to in the Central American climate of their home, the Salvadorans took part in all the events alongside their American counterparts, accompanied by translators and at times impressing everyone.

    “We focus more on physical and practical training then on paperwork,” Bolaños said.

    He mentioned that they have their own best warrior competition in El Salvador with different events including swimming and bicycle riding.

    The BWC took a sentimental turn at the end of the 12-mile ruck march where Santos’s parents waited for him. Having left him in the care of his grandparents when they immigrated to the U.S., they hadn’t seen their son in 18 years. They drove the entire day prior from Virginia when they found out their son would be in New Hampshire. An emotion-filled reunion occurred at the finish line.

    “I was so excited to see him, I thought my heart would stop,” said his mother, Rufina Castillo Rivera. “He’s such a good soldier.”

    The competition ended with an award ceremony where all the participants were recognized and the winners of the various events received prizes. This included Santos and Bolaños for their performance in the ruck march.

    Afterwards the competitors, accompanied by their sponsors and Santos’s family, did some sightseeing in Concord and had a final meal together before heading home.

    Despite not winning the overall competition, the Salvadorans seemed quite happy with the trip.

    “I was preparing for a cross-training mission with Paraguay, but when the officers saw how I was preforming they decided to send me to the U.S. instead,” Santos said. “This is much better.”

    Ford said the next goal was to try and get some New Hampshire soldiers down to El Salvador to compete in the Salvadoran Best Warrior Competition.

    “They’ve seen what we can do and we’ve seen what they can do and more importantly, we’ve seen what we can do together,” Ford said. “Because it is a partnership.”



    Date Taken: 04.09.2017
    Date Posted: 05.05.2017 05:11
    Story ID: 232670
    Location: NEW CASTLE, NH, US 

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