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    ARNG places 8th and 13th in Best Ranger Competition

    ARNG places 8th and 13th in Best Ranger Competition

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Kathleen LaCorte | U.S. Army 1st Lt. Copeland Zaunbrecker, a scout platoon leader assigned to...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Kathleen LaCorte 

    122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    FORT BENNING, Ga. — The Army National Guard (ARNG) put on an impressive performance in the 39th Best Ranger Competition, April 14 – 16, 2023. The ARNG entered the competition with three teams out of 56 teams overall and two of those teams finished the competition with one team placing in the top ten.

    The Best Ranger Competition is a grueling test of the physical and cognitive limits of Ranger-qualified contestants. The competition started with 56 two-man teams and on the final day only 16 teams were left standing. Of the 16 teams that finished, one ARNG team placed 8th and another placed 13th.

    “They will cut people from the competition. Not everybody gets to finish, not everybody gets a trophy,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Robert Ehrreich, battalion operations NCO and ARNG team coach assigned to the Warrior Training Center. “That drives me. If I want something, if I want anything, I have got to be first.”

    Day one of the competition involved an astounding 42 miles of movement which included running and ruck marches throughout the day and night in addition to an obstacle course, an urban assault course, multiple firing ranges, an Army Combat Fitness Test, and other events. The first day ended with a 20-mile ruck march that required the contestants to carry 60 to 70 pounds of weight.

    “Forty-two miles in the first day?” said Ehrreich. “That’s impressive and it embodies the Ranger Creed. It’s very difficult to train for that. It does fill that persona of living up to what we say we are as Ranger-qualified soldiers in the United States Army. It lives up to that prestige and we get to put it on display for everybody, not just the families and friends, but also the community and other soldiers from around the world, they get to watch us demonstrate.”

    During the three-day event, the contestants moved over 60 miles, burned an average of up to 35,000 calories, competed on 13 different weapons systems, completed four helicopter missions and 18 tactical tasks with only four hours of rest.

    “This is a marathon event,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Nathanael LaCorte, a platoon leader assigned to the 639th Quartermaster Company, Montana Army National Guard and Best Ranger Competition team 47 contestant. “You cannot train for any one particular event. You have to train for the duration. You have to go from one difficult thing to another difficult thing and still be able to perform. You need to be good at an event even after you’re exhausted. You can’t just be good when you’re fresh.”

    The average age of a Best Ranger Competition contestant is 28 years old, and the contestants’ ranks range from specialist to major and all are volunteer Airborne and Ranger-qualified soldier athletes. The Rangers are paired in two-man buddy teams, and they are placed under extreme physical, mental, technical and tactical demands.

    “There were times where he was pushing me and times I was pushing him,” LaCorte said, referring to his team member, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Copeland Zaunbrecker, a scout platoon leader assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard. “If you are stuck but you see your teammate trudging on ahead, it is really motivating because you never want to let them down. It helps you take your mind off yourself and how bad it hurts and helps you focus on the team.”

    “You can always do more than what your body feels,” said Zaunbrecker, “It’s always just another step. Around mile 14 of the ruck, you are like, ‘My goodness, this is getting tiring,’ but you take the next step, keep going, and before you know it, you are at the finish line.”

    The Best Ranger Competition was meant to be Ranger-level Olympics and if a comparison can be made to civilian athletic events, it would be like running a marathon with a spartan trifecta and a tactical game all combined into one competition.

    “I love watching these guys grow from the beginning because you’re talking about top tier, already high performing soldiers from officers to enlisted that are coming to you already at peak performance, and you get to watch them go to this whole other level, and then at the end get them to display that level of military might, professionalism, discipline, and athleticism on a world stage, said Ehrreich. “That in itself is the reward.”

    The ARNG teams train for the competition at the Warrior Training Center on Camp Butler located at Fort Benning. The camp is named after highly decorated Ranger Hall of Fame Inductee, William E. Butler, a World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War veteran who retired from the Indiana National Guard when he reached the maximum age of military service.

    Medal of Honor recipient retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. attended the 39th Best Ranger Competition and recited the Ranger Creed with the contestants during the award ceremony following the competition.

    “Ralph Puckett is a good reminder that If you have a Ranger tab, you need to be thinking bigger than yourself,” said LaCorte. “You need to be thinking about the Army as a whole, who you can help motivate and how you can make the Army stronger and better and how you can make the people around you better.”

    In memorial to Butler and Puckett’s legacy and to all the Rangers who have gone before, the ARNG teams train six days a week and up to 12 hours a day to prepare for the competition. The Warrior Training Center coaches and develops succeeding generations of ARNG Rangers in the creed “as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.”



    Date Taken: 04.16.2023
    Date Posted: 05.04.2023 09:59
    Story ID: 443542
    Location: FORT BENNING, GA, US 

    Web Views: 156
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