Soldiers honor 'Mountain' tradition with challenging competition
February 17, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The 10th Mountain Division was created to wage alpine warfare during World War II. Before the division called Fort Drum its home, it was located at Camp Hale, Colo., where volunteers trained on skills such as rock climbing, cross-country skiing, long marches, and winter and mountain survival techniques.
In an effort to help foster pride in the 10th Mountain Division's heritage of mountain and winter warfare, the 10th Sustainment Brigade continued its tradition and hosted its third "Muleskinner Challenge" competition earlier this month.
Muleskinner Challenge III, winter quadrathlon, was held at Fort Drum's Childers Indoor Weapon Training Facility and the surrounding training area.
The brigade's two previous Muleskinner Challenges involved a 194-mile cross-country bicycle race and a 26.2-mile marathon. The third challenge consisted of a snowshoe race, an Ahkio sled pull, cross-country skiing and marksmanship.
Every battalion in the brigade was represented in the 32 teams that competed.
The competition provided Soldiers an opportunity to appreciate the division's history and to challenge themselves, physically and mentally, while competing with seniors, peers and subordinates alike.
It allows Soldiers to relax and have a good time, said Spc. Chad Bernie, a transportation management coordinator assigned to 620th Movement Control Team.
"The company has two teams in the competition, and I came out this morning to support both teams," Bernie said.
The challenge began with Soldiers snowshoeing. They raced for 0.6 miles on their way to the next event. The event was broken down into three equal segments throughout the course.
The 10th Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion provided safety personnel responsible for timing and recording the results for the event. They also provided medical support for the competition.
The second event required Soldiers to pull an Ahkio sled, which weighed approximately 100 pounds, for half a mile. The 7th Engineer Battalion provided command and control for the event, as well as hot soup, warm beverages and snow removal support for the competition.
The marksmanship event was supported by 91st Military Police Battalion. Soldiers shot three different times during the competition. Soldiers were required to cross-country ski a short penalty lap for every shot missed or ammunition not expended. The 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion was in charge of making sure Soldiers completed penalty laps.
The fourth event challenged Soldier to cross-country ski for approximately 1.7 miles. Participants executed the event twice during the 6.2-mile competition.
The 548th Combat Service Support Battalion supported the event by providing safeties as well as warming tents. They also were in charge of coordinating with the Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation for ski training. FMWR provided snowshoes, skis and course preparation.
"The MWR really came through for us," said Spc. Clayton M. Endicott, truck driver assigned to 110th Transportation Company, 548th CSSB.
"They are getting everybody taken care of," he added. "They're definitely showing they support the troops."
Teams have been training for this challenge for more than two months. Soldiers were given an opportunity to sharpen their skills in the morning as part of their physical training session.
"It's not something you do every day," said 2nd Lt. Patrick Zebrowski, strength manager assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th SBTB. "It absolutely helped prepare for the event."
The event brought Soldiers, Families and friends together to share a day away from the work environment to support one another and have some fun.
"I think that it's a lot of fun," said Aileen Badgett, spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy S. Badgett, chief of operations assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, and member of team Lucky 13. "I think it definitely raises family morale and Soldier morale."
The event had a tremendous amount of support not only from Soldiers and their units but from the Fort Drum community, FMWR, Directorate of Public Works and the 10th Mountain Division Association.
As music played, people were heard cheering on their favorite teams throughout the entire challenge.
"The team is pumped up," said Staff Sgt. Juan A. Delgado, training NCO assigned to 7th Engineer Bn.
He cheered on his fellow Lucky 13 team members and kept them motivated to go for the win.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they won it all," Delgado said.
Although not every participant can finish in first place, most of them can leave knowing they were part of something great: a part of history.
"We came up with this challenge to go back and recognize our heritage as mountain warriors," said Command Sgt. Maj. Allen G. Fritzsching, 10th Sustainment Brigade senior enlisted adviser.
"The bottom line of these challenges is to challenge young men and women to do something that maybe they would never get an opportunity to do; something that can be a life-long accomplishment; something they can be proud of," he added.
Team Lucky 13 finished the challenge with a time of 1 hour, 31 minutes, 6 seconds, earning them the title of Top Mountain Warriors, but it wasn't easy. The second-place team was less than six minutes away.
Members of Lucky 13 - Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Badgett, chief of operations NCO; Capt. Joseph Baumann, chief of operations officer; Capt. Ryan Baum, training officer; and Staff Sgt. Juan Delgado, training NCO - are assigned to 7th Engineer Bn.
There also was an optional event. Soldiers could compete as individuals in a one-mile, cross-country ski sprint.
First Lt. Michael Simmons, a platoon leader assigned to 630th Engineer Company, 7th Engineer Bn., won the event with a time of 3 minutes, 27 seconds.
"These Soldiers are absolutely magnificent," Fritzsching said. "I'm very proud of them."