CAMP DODGE, IA, UNITED STATES
By Capt. Olivia Cobiskey
CAMP DODGE, Iowa – Cadets still have no idea what will be waiting for them at two of the stations Saturday, March 17, during the first 3rd ROTC Brigade Gaspers-Cahill Ranger Challenge.
The mystery is part of making the event more challenging this year, said Col. Dean P. Shultis, commander of the 3rd Reserve Officer Training Corps command at Great Lakes, Ill.
“Nobody can train for them,” Shultis said. “You’ve just got to show up and figure it out on the go.”
It is real world changing that honors the brigade’s 11 alumni who died in combat. The challenge was named for two of them, both University of Nebraska graduates, 1st Lt. Kevin J. Gaspers and Capt. Joel E. Cahill, were killed in Iraq.
The rest of the events are named for the other nine men who attended one of the schools in the brigade’s 10-state region, which includes North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Missouri, and Michigan’s upper peninsula. The two mystery stations are named for Capt. Edward D. Iwan and 1st Lt. Benjamin John Hall.
Iwan, a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was killed November 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq, while assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Hall, a graduate of Michigan Technological University, was killed July 31, 2007, in the Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan, while assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment from Vicenza, Italy.
Michael Bogda, 21, a junior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, heard a lot of rumors about the mystery events, which included archery, pulling a Humvee or various survival skills exercises.
It was frustrating not knowing how to train for the events. However, winning the mystery event will come down to one thing, teamwork, Bogda said.
And his team has that in spades.
“If the teams aren’t working well together, then they are not going to win,” he said.
To build teamwork and esprit de corps his team did physical training five days a week and trained for events like the road march, orienteering, weapons assembly and disassembly, and constructing a one-rope bridge on the weekends.
“We did a lot of PT,” Bogda said.
Bogda’s team is on the right track, Shultis said.
There is a lot more walking between events, the events are tougher, and there are more physical and mental hardships; however, Shultis said the cadets would do fine if they remember two things – a commitment to each other and a commitment to excellence.
“There is no downtime this year,” he said. “Once you are in the arena, so to speak, you’re in the competition, there’s no help, there’s no parents handing out oranges, there’s nobody handing out hot chocolate to you.
“You have your food, you have your events, you have your team and you get each other through it.”
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This work, Two events still a mystery for cadets, by CPT Olivia Cobiskey, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.