News: Teams compete to be the Ultimate Sustainers
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. – With a tight grip, ankles crossed and body suspended on a rope 30 feet above the ground, Spc. Christopher Martin, a soldier with 295th Quartermaster Company, looked with some apprehension at the only way down. He could hear his nine teammates shouting words of encouragement as he let gravity do most of the work for him on this particular obstacle.
Without the safety net below, and with muscle fatigue setting in, Martin clenched his teeth and clambered the last few yards to the ground. Still reeling from the experience, he followed his team to conquer another obstacle on the confidence course.
This was the second day of a week-long “Ultimate Sustainer” competition for teams of soldiers from the 593rd Sustainment Brigade, Oct. 3-6.
Earlier in the day, some of the 10-soldier teams were sent to the land navigation course, and the day before was the Army Physical Fitness Test and weapons range portions of the competition. Participants had 40 rounds to qualify without the normal allowance for weapon zeroing.
In all, 10 squads were in the competition, one for each company in the brigade; detachments combined to form full teams.
Pfc. Benjamin Padilla, who competed in I Corps’ 2011 Soldier of the Year competition, was part of the team fielded by the 497th Transportation Company.
“The confidence course is definitely one of the tougher parts to this, but it’s also one of the more fun events,” Padilla said.
Squads negotiated the course one team at a time, receiving points for every obstacle completed by at least 8 of the 10 team members. Course completion time was the determining factor for tie-breaking.
“A lot of times we had to choose the best course of action given the risk factors and given what we know of each others’ strengths or weaknesses. The team had to come together on a decision as quickly as possible,” said Spc. Jimmi Core, a motor transport operator with the 21st Cargo Transfer Company.
Day three of the competition focused on warrior task training at Sequalitchew Lake. The soldiers were put into some stressful situations – react to contact, react to a suspected improvised explosive device and calling in a 9-line MEDEVAC among others.
Teams were also evaluated on factors including pre-combat inspections and hasty vehicle recovery operations using a tow bar.
The last day of the competition was a 12-mile ruck march that started and finished at Seay Field, outside of the 593rd Brigade headquarters.
In the end, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Sustainment Bde., took first place. “The march definitely got to a lot of people; I’m glad we came together as a team,” said Spc. Russell Horton, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and member of the winning team.
The 542nd Maintenance Company came in second place and the 497th Transportation Company took third.
“It was great non-commissioned officers putting it together with junior enlisted soldiers taking charge to make this a great event. Each of them learned something, and learned something about each other – their fellow professionals,” said Col. Scott Lofreddo, commander of the 593rd Sustainment Bde.