Guard celebrates 377 years of service, camaraderie with challenge in Afghanistan
December 15, 2013
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Dec. 15, 2013) -- Since Dec. 13, 1636, early American settlers who formed militias, some who became minutemen -- a highly mobile, elite force of the military -- would come together as volunteers to form the U.S. National Guard, protecting their land and homes.
Once again Guardsmen came together with teamwork and esprit de corps during the U.S. National Guard five-kilometer race and Minuteman Challenge on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 14.
It concluded the Guard's three-day, 377th birthday celebration, which consisted of a leadership dinner, a breakfast with Soldiers and Airmen, a cake cutting, a re-enlistment ceremony, a race and the Minuteman Challenge, said Maj. Eric Luca, from Cleveland and an information officer for the 437th Military Police Battalion, Ohio Army National Guard. The U.S. National Guard Affairs-Afghanistan hosted the event, and the 437th Military Police Battalion sponsored it.
The five-man team challenge was open to all U.S. service members and civilians on Bagram Airfield, said U.S. Guardsman Master Sgt. Edward LeDoux, senior career counselor/enlisted advisor for National Guard Affairs-Afghanistan. It consisted of six team events including: a 5k race, situps, pullups, ammo can squats, tires flips and burpees, which is a leg and chest endurance exercise.
Twenty teams competed, scoring points for final placing in the race and complete team repetitions at each of the five other events, added Luca.
Teams, some mixed with different service members from different units, relied on each other for support and energy to complete each challenge, which was the basis for the challenge itself, said LeDoux.
"It was more than celebrating the Guard's birthday, but a chance to give back to the [Bagram Airfield] community," said Luca.
"(The Guard) opened the challenge to everyone. We are one team with one fight," explained LeDoux. "It's an opportunity to bring together service members who are spread across the U.S. to celebrate with healthy competition, building esprit de corps and teamwork while having fun."
For the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, it did just that, as three teams from the brigade were represented at the challenge, bringing their competitive spirits with them, said Lt. Col. Mark Huhtanen, Black Jack deputy commander.
"It was fun and challenging, with the different events playing to different peoples strengths," added Huhtanen.
Huhtanen remarked on what he felt was the most important part of the challenge, which was remembering military heritage.
"It was great to celebrate the National Guard's birthday, after all Guard is an important part of our heritage," said Huhtanen. "The challenge brought service members together, which brought out the Warrior Ethos and Army values."
LeDoux said he was pleased overall with the challenge that took almost 40 U.S. service members and months of planning to incorporate it on Bagram Airfield. His hopes are high another challenge will take place in the states for next year's birthday celebration of the Guard.
A special thanks to the five committees that contributed to the overall setup of the challenge: National Guard Affairs-Afghanistan, 210th Military Police Company, from North Carolina, 198th Signal Group from Delaware, 437th Military Police Battalion, the 181st Field Artillery Battalion, from Tennessee, and the National Guard Military History Detachment, said LeDoux.
Winner of the challenge was team "Sappers In," five members from the 130th Engineer Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with a score of more than 1,500 points.