Soldiers compete in last Currahee Best Squad Competition
April 10, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - At the sound of the word "go" six squads rushed from their starting position to their first of six events.
"This morning's competition just speaks volumes about the Soldiers' individual and collective dedication," said Col. Val C. Keaveny, Jr., commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "It shows the Soldiers' individual and collective fitness, discipline, technical skills, tactical skills and leadership."
These six squads, each representing their respective battalion within the 4th Brigade Combat Team, participated in the brigade's last Best Squad Competition, April 9, 2014, as a final show of which battalion is superior.
In order to determine which was the best, the Soldiers were required to navigate through six events located around the brigade's foot print.
"The events are designed to test mental and physical toughness," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Dodge, an infantryman with the 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div., and coordinator of this month's Best Squad Competition. "They have written exams on weapons and unit history, map reading, common [Soldier] skills, as well as physical events."
The physical events consisted of a buddy carry, transport of a casualty, as well as six of the obstacles on the brigade's obstacle course.
"The events were challenging," explained Staff Sgt. Richard D. Toon II, Squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Whiskey Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. (Air Assault), native of Champaign, Ill. "They (the obstacles) were not really what I expected but were great team building events."
Developing a closer and more cohesive unit is one of the main motivations for hosting events like the Best Squad.
"The reason why we do these is to build esprit de corps amongst the Soldiers, within the squads and across the brigade," said Dodge. "Best squad competitions were held monthly. The significance with this one is that it is the last one for the brigade."
The Soldiers who participated in the event relished the opportunity to be able to participate in this competition.
"It was an honor to be able to compete in the brigade's last event," said Toon. "This unit has a distinct history and it was nice to participate in its final event."
The Soldiers felt the significance of being included in the unit's history even more with the inactivation of the brigade being just weeks away.
"These Soldiers have done a lot over the last few months," said Keaveny. "1st [Bn.], 2nd [Bn.], Panther, Glory, Apache, Maintaineer; all of you have definitely written a chapter in Currahee history that is just as bold, just as strong, just as agile as the guys they made a movie about."
"Everybody ran neck-in-neck and in extraordinarily close contention," said Keaveny. "In the final outcome, Soldiers have to be physically, morally and mentally straight. The outcome [of this competition], the difference was decided by one point."
The one point that won the competition was earned by the squad led by Toon.
"It feels pretty awesome winning this competition," said Toon. "It was just a great opportunity to compete with my Soldiers; it feels good to come out on top."
Not only did Toons squad win the Best Squad, they won the last Currahee Best Squad.
"This is another 'last,' for now," Keaveny explained. "We fought for a year in WWII and then inactivated, we fought for four years in Vietnam then inactivated, we served in Korea for 20 years and went straight to Iraq, earned a Valorous Unit Award there, then inactivated; we activated here, fought for four years and now it's time to transform and inactivate."
The brigade is scheduled to be inactivated, April 25, 2014, during a ceremony at Division Parade Field.