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    Regiment Highlights Elite Warriors in V Corps Best Squad Competition

    V Corps Best Squad Competition AT4 Range

    Photo By Spc. Andrew Clark | U.S. Army Sgt. Johnathan Trout, assigned to the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, fires an...... read more read more

    GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany - Conditions were far from optimal. The early morning rain had turned the grass slick, and several Soldiers slipped as they raced against the clock and one another. The competition was just beginning. Shouts of encouragement filled the misty air over the field as 35 soldiers began an Army Combat Fitness Test, the first event of the V Corps Best Squad Competition.

    “The V Corps Best Squad Competition is an opportunity for the three assigned brigades, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, to present the best squads in their brigade - their five best Soldiers in their brigade - and give them an opportunity to work together, build cohesion and validate their warfighting capabilities,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Bohannon, the forward senior enlisted advisor for V Corps.

    “They say competition breeds excellence, and that's exactly what this competition has done,” Bohannon continued.

    During the five-day competition on Grafenwoehr Training Area, taking place from May 5 through May 10, the squads, designated Team Alpha through Team Golf, were challenged at every possible level. The competitors were challenged both physically and mentally through demanding events such as land navigation, operations in a chemical environment, marksmanship, weapons qualification, leadership evaluation and medical operations, all while completing over 75 squad tasks and battle drills.

    “The best squad competition here has definitely been challenging,” Sgt. William Hogarth, an infantry noncommissioned officer assigned to 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and team leader for Alpha Team, said. “Everything that I've learned throughout my five years in the Army has been placed into this week.”

    Though one of the earliest events is an Army Combat Fitness Test, that might be the easiest portion of the competition. In every other event, the Soldiers were loaded up with their rucksacks and “battle rattle”, outfitted in advanced combat helmets and improved outer tactical vests.

    “We've been encouraging each other,” Pvt. Alexander Gibson, a Rocket System Crewmember assigned to the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, and member of Team Echo, said. “Lifting each other's spirits up and everything. They say, ‘if it sucks, enjoy the suck, embrace the suck.’”

    Between the events, the Soldiers were expected to navigate the training area and ruck out to each course as a squad. An additional hurdle was the inclement weather that overtook Grafenwoehr Training Area during the first few days of the competition. Many of the Soldiers found themselves going through their supply of dry socks at an alarming rate.

    “The biggest challenge this week so far is between the weather and the moving around,” Sgt. Johnathan Trout, a gunner with the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, and a member of Team Echo, said. “We've been walking close to 12 miles every day and it's been raining on us nonstop.”

    One significant aspect to the competition was introducing Soldiers to tasks they might not be familiar with, and seeing how well they learned and executed the new skill. Even when executing a task individually, the Soldiers of each squad were graded together, meaning they had to rely and support one another throughout the entire competition.

    “I would say that a lot of these guys have invested themselves into learning new things,” Sgt. Justin Hammers, assigned to 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, who acted as a lane walker for the competition, said. “So providing them development and mentorship and learning new techniques and new things throughout the competition I think has been a reward.”

    The Soldiers had to learn how to safely operate weapons systems they might have never seen before, like the M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon, or run an obstacle course at the end of an already exhausting day, where they had been marching between events for miles.

    “My favorite part is just watching the squads overcome adversity and the challenges of the competition,” Bohannon said. “A lot of these soldiers, they have a unique mission set where they're being challenged on a lot of war fighting tasks that they're typically not challenged with on a regular basis.”

    After all the events of the week, the Soldiers ended with a final 12-mile ruck march with a time limit of three hours. After days of marching to and from each event, it was not a small task to finish on, but the Soldiers were undeterred. After completing the ruck, many celebrated by taking off their boots in the dewy grass and laughing over the immense challenges they had overcome during the week.

    “The toughness of the competition is bringing out the true grit of the American soldier,” Bohannon said. “And watching soldiers step up in the absence of orders or leadership, when leaders go down, just watching them continue to execute and accomplish the mission is pretty inspiring to watch.”

    The day after the ruck march, the competing Soldiers waited to hear the final results during a ceremony conducted at the Tower View Conference Center in Grafenwoehr. The atmosphere was one of contentment and relief, with many of the competing Soldiers even boasting that they were hardly tired after the long week. Bohannon was on hand to give remarks, describing his immense pride in the competing Soldiers.

    “All of you have proven that you can move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier,” Bohannon said. “And all of you have embodied the creeds and the Army values that we try to uphold every day in everything that we do.”

    An Army Achievement Medal was first awarded to Spc. Ashton Higgins, assigned to the 41st Field Artillery Brigade and member of Team Echo, for distinguished leadership during the competition. Bohannon acknowledged that, when Team Echo was down a Soldier during the obstacle course, Higgins ran the course twice so that his team wouldn’t be docked points.

    Next, Army Achievement Medals were awarded to the runner-up team, Team Charlie, who represented the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Staff Sgt. Jesus Luna, Sgt. Matthew Krysa, Pfc. Lee Demarcus, Pfc. Noah Oneill, were presented by Bohannon, who noted that despite losing a Soldier to injury during the competition, they still managed to come in second place.

    The winning team was then announced as Team Alpha, made up of Staff Sgt. Jordan Behr, Sgt. William Hogarth, Spc. Warrisi Abiola, Spc. Jonathan White, and Pfc. Phillip Kunde, who also represented the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The winners were given Army Commendation Medals.

    “Our squad leader, Staff Sgt. Behr, he definitely put us through a lot of challenging work to make sure that we were prepared for this,” Hogarth said, discussing the experience of the competition. “And it's worked heavily in our favor. Everything we did was right on par with what we expected. And so far, it's given us the results that we were looking for.”

    Both teams will be going on to compete in the U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) Best Squad Competition, the winners of which will go on to compete in the U.S. Army Best Squad Competition.


    Date Taken: 05.21.2024
    Date Posted: 05.23.2024 04:05
    Story ID: 471854
    Location: DE

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