Fort Polk Engineers run through jungle
July 13, 2010
- Competition builds cohesion, morale
FORT POLK, La. -- The 46th Engineer Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade conducted a best squad competition June 30 as part of a series of events formulated to build unit cohesion and morale. Other events included Family day at Alligator Lake and a Family battalion run July 1.
The best squad competition included a swamp run, M-16 qualification and Soldier tasks. The swamp run weaved through the woods and swamp east of Texas Avenue -- squads carried a member of their team on a litter, pushed a HMMWV, carried water jugs, crawled through tunnels and waded through a chest-deep swamp to determine which company in the battalion had the most skill and determination. Squads consisted of the most proficient Soldiers from their companies.
Second Lt. Jared Emmart, 93rd Vertical Construction Company, 46th Eng Bn, organized the competition, three months in the making.
"There is a best squad streamer that will go on the company guidon, and there are bragging rights for the leaders, too," he said.
Motivation was high during the run. "After these Soldiers ran through the swamp today, a lot of them were tired, but they were picking each other up," Emmart said.
Later in the day, the competitors reconvened at the 1st MEB quarter-mile track to put their Soldier skills to the test.
The Army Warrior Tasks that were tested included the nine-line unexploded ordnance report, evaluate and treat a casualty, nine-line medical evacuation request, weapons assembly, land navigation and call for fire.
The squads also exhibited their marksmanship at the engagement skills trainer.
"The competition was well-organized," said Staff Sgt. Philip Benezue, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "We do the swamp run regularly, and in training for this event, my squad ran it five or six times."
Benezue's team was comprised of the personal security detachment for the battalion commander and command sergeant major.
"We're always together," he said. "Everybody wants to win. My favorite part is weapons assembly, that's what I'm best at. The other teams look good, but we're better. When people think about the personal security detachment, the word 'domination' comes to mind."
The HHC team may have had high morale, but at the end of the competition, the 22nd Survey and Design Detachment went home with the best squad streamer.
Cpl. Andy Gibson, 93rd Vertical Construction Co, said the swamp run was his favorite part of the competition. "It was nasty - we were running and falling over, but going through the swamp brought us together because we needed each other," he said. "We had to use teamwork and push through. We were all tired because we did a PT test a few days ago." The team from the 93rd turned in one of the fastest times, and Gibson said strategy and coordination were key.
"We had one person in the front moving vines and branches out of the way and calling out the trail conditions, two people carrying the litter and the rest of the squad behind," he said. "We rotated litter carriers throughout the swamp. When we got to the water jugs we did the same thing - each person grabbed one and we traded them off."
Even though Gibson's team didn't win, he said he enjoyed the competition. "This is motivating for me," he said. "There's competition, but we're all one team and it motivates everyone to want to learn. It's healthy. I'm the squad leader, so I'm learning my teammates' strengths and weaknesses. When we have free time later, we can work on our weaknesses and get everyone ready to go overseas."