FORT STEWART, Ga. – The wet coastal Georgia weather didn’t dampen Dog Face soldiers’ spirits, June 25, as thousands of troops stormed into some friendly competition on Fort Stewart. The forecast called for clearer skies as the days progressed, but rain or shine the 3rd Infantry Division soldiers were determined to bring the heat during the four-day, action-packed event more commonly known as Marne Week.
Marne Week—an athletic and military competition for soldiers across the 3rd Inf. Div.—pitted individuals and battalion teams against each other in more than 25 events ranging from horse shoes and tug-of-war to CrossFit, close quarters battles and a triathlon. Though the competition was friendly, each team had their eye on taking home a gold medal and vied to help their brigade win the coveted Marne Cup.
Specialist Brianna Potter, with the 83rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, was one of the gold medalists, taking first place in the female CrossFit category. She said practice was the key element to her success even though she only began training just two weeks before the competition.
“We incorporated CrossFit into our daily physical training,” she said, “and that really helped me. Competing in Marne Week has made me want to continue with CrossFit, improve and come back to do even better next year.”
Daily physical training also helped 2nd Lt. Joseph Love complete a 400-meter swim followed by a 20 kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run, June 27. The platoon leader with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said that even the individual events like the triathlon required working together.
“My unit does pretty intensive PT every morning, so that really helped prepare me for this,” he said. “Marne Week is fun; it builds unit cohesion and teamwork.”
Teamwork was critical to the winners of the flag football tournament, and head coach, 1st Sgt. Christopher Williams, said that the “Mustangs” with the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th IBCT, came out on top due to their drive and determination.
“They never quit, never gave up. These troops really live by the same Army creeds and oaths on the playing field that they do on the battlefield,” he said.
Though Marne Week was much about competition, its main focus was to instill camaraderie and esprit de corps for not only the soldiers who participated, but for the family Members who attended.
“Events like this make me so emotional and proud to be a part of this organization,” Williams said. “Marne Week is bigger than any team or any one individual. It’s about the whole 3rd Infantry Division family coming together to enjoy time well spent with each other.”
Major General Robert “Abe” Abrams, commanding general of the 3rd Inf. Div. presented gold medals to the winners in each category during a ceremony held on Cottrell Field, June 29. Additionally, the Marne Cup was awarded to the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
“There can only be one winner,” the general said before handing the trophy to 1st HBCT Command Team, Col. James Crider and Command Sgt. Maj. Herbert Kirkover, “…but in the end, we all know that we’re a part of the same big team.”