FORT HOOD, Texas - During the four days of the 2013 Fort Hood Combatives Tournament, 228 soldiers competed against each other in eight different weight classes, and of those, 11 belonged to the 41st Fires Brigade Team “Rail Gunners.”
For those 11 Rail Gunners, the pressure was on. Training started in November for this year’s combatives tournament.
The 41st Fires Brigade took first place in the 2012 tournament and runner-up honors in the 2011 tournament.
“I believe we trained the hardest out of every one on post. We trained every day since November,” said 2nd Lt. Terrence Green, the boxing coach for the Rail Gunner combatives team.
Out of the 11 that started the tournament, five made it the final day of competition, three of which battled for first place in their weight class. One soldier, Spc. Richard Cole, last year’s welterweight champion, was eliminated early in the tournament do to a cracked rib.
Coming into the championship rounds, Sgt. Simon Pequeno, Spc. Micah Barro and Capt. Nathan Thobaben fought for first place in different weight classes. Both Pequeno and Barro took the win in their class.
“We came in here with two-thirds of a team … and we still took second,” said Sgt. Maj. Timothy Wayne, the operations sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde.
Leading into the championship bouts, 3rd Cavalry Regiment was in first place and 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was second overall in the team standings, while the 41st Fires Bde. started the night off in third.
“We were down by 10 points yesterday,” Green said.
As a whole, the Rail Gunner team finished second in the tournament – no easy feat, when, according to the rules, a full team can consist of 16 soldiers.
“Maybe next year we can have a full team and get that trophy back where it belongs,” Wayne said.