Phoenix Soldiers go the extra mile
January 19, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas - The cold morning did not stop the Soldiers with the 324th Network Support Company, 41st Fires Brigade, as they readied themselves mentally and physically with their casualty training dummy, Randy, in preparation for the Phoenix Mile obstacle course here, Jan 11.
The Phoenix Mile is the 324th NSC practical training challenge between the line platoon and the joint network node platoon. The rivalry could be seen at the first formation as the Soldiers from each platoon, wearing full battle gear, boasted about who would win.
The competition, occurring the second Tuesday every month, was started in 2007 by 1st Sgt. Joseph Bruno, native of Lafayette, La., first sergeant for the 324th NSC, who wanted a way to keep his Soldiers combat ready.
"The purpose of the Phoenix Mile is to conduct battle focused physical training where you incorporate what Soldiers would replicate as they're moving on the battlefield," said Bruno. "The objectivity is to simulate actions they would take out in combat."
Capt. Eric Robertson, of Lake Jackson, Texas, commander of the 324th NSC, participated along with his Soldiers and says that competitions like the Phoenix Mile motivate him and makes him want to compete harder.
"We have the Phoenix Mile as a commendatory, team building event but it also promotes competition among the company," said Robertson. "We do it platoon versus platoon, and it also builds confidence and focuses on functional fitness."
This month's competition consisted of a tractor tire flip relay, eight-count push-ups using a four person team, sit-ups using a three person team, pull-ups, a water jug relay, and a Skedco pull with weapons.
A Skedco is a lightweight, casualty stretcher that wraps around the casualty and pulled for quick evacuation.
The Soldiers were in for a surprise during this month's Phoenix Mile when Bruno selected several Soldiers from each group to participate in an unknown event. The mystery events changes every month with different goals to attain in order to keep the Soldiers guessing.
For this month's Phoenix Mile, the Soldiers competed in an equipment run where each group had a casualty on a liter, two mortar rounds, M16-A2 rifles, and two five-gallon water jugs to carry along the mile course.
"The competition today was different," said Spc. Michael Bell, a Pittsburgh native and signal support specialist for the 324th NSC. "I like how no one knew was going to happen next and I thought that brought a new level to the Phoenix Mile."
Spc. Louis McElhinney, from Cochranton, Pa., a satellite operator specialist for the 324th NSC, said a friendly rivalry brings the unit together and at the same time gives the Soldiers a different physical training challenge.
"The competition was a lot of fun and different than our usual PT," said McElhinney. "It also brings a sense of knowing you can count on your battle buddies during wartime."
After all the tasks were completed to standard and Randy was given the aid he needed, the line platoon won the competition and will receive certificates of achievements and bragging rights for the month. The rivalry will continue until next time.