Iron Aviator: Soldiers compete for coveted title
February 20, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 20, 2014) -- The sun hadn't yet melted the frost that gripped the installation, but students of the Aviation Captains Career Course were up early to compete for one of Fort Rucker's most coveted titles.
Seven teams and three individuals from Class 1304 of AVC3 competed in the Iron Aviator competition Feb. 14, but only one individual came out on top to earn the title.
Capt. Nicholas Shamrell, A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, beat out all other individual competitors with a total time of 1:45:13, despite taking a wrong turn in the first event.
"I really like doing these competitions in general, but it felt even better knowing that I lost (a few minutes) during the ruck march and still came in first," he said. "There was (an obstacle) blocking the way I was supposed to go instead of indicating the way that I was supposed to go, and I got turned around."
Despite the misstep, Shamrell managed to beat the closest individual's time by more than three minutes, and was only five seconds behind the team with the best-combined time.
Abusement Park donned a superhero theme and finished first with a time of 1:45:08. Team members consisted of Capt. Trevor White, who adorned a full-body chicken suit during the road march; Capt. Tyler Freeman, swimmer dressed as superman; Capt. Chris Benjumea, biker also dressed as superman; and Capt. Michael Sudweeks, runner dressed as Captain America.
For them, the competition was not only about the chance to compete against one another, but also a chance to have fun and hang out with those they've grown so close to before they graduate Feb. 21.
"I think this is a really good team-building thing for us," said Sudweeks. "It helps maintain that competitive spirit that we all have as Aviators."
"It's a really good chance for us to get out and do this all together as a team before we finish up," added Freeman. "It's just a good time and it's all in good fun."
The competition consists of four events: a 4 ½-mile road march, 300-meter swim, 6 ½-mile bike ride and 2 ½-mile run. Competitors were allowed to participate as either individuals or as a team of four, in which each team member would take on a different event.
For most people, the hardest part of the competition is the road march, and that rang true for the top finisher, as well.
"The run is usually the hardest thing to do because it's at the end of everything, but the ruck is tough because it's 4 ½ miles in boots with nearly 40 pounds of equipment on your body," said Shamrell, who also participates in competitions outside of Iron Aviator.
The competition also features pit crews made up of remaining students and cadre in the course to come out and help their teams. Each pit crew helps its team by assisting participants during the transitions throughout, providing food and refreshments, and providing the camaraderie and support, said Capt. Travis Owen, officer in charge for the event.
"This is always a great opportunity for all the students and cadre to come out, do something together, and build some camaraderie and esprit de corps," said. "We want to leave a lasting impression as a class to remember some of the relationships and bonds that have been built through the course."