FORT HOOD, Texas -- The sounds of cheers could be heard all throughout Starker gym as Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, applauded for their peers fighting inside the combatives octagon, March 24.

Thirteen Soldiers from First Strike competed to see who was King of the Hill in their weight category.

The competition was a First Strike hosted event as Soldiers from every battery competed in the different weight classes. The competitors walked into the ring to a song of their choice and a desire to win.

Pfc. Richard "Puppet Master" Cole, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., a fire direction specialist for Battery C, 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., kept his title as King of the Hill middleweight champion by staying calm and using his specialty move to make his opponent submit.

"It is important to always stay level-headed because if you don't, you will make mistakes," said Cole. "My special moves always start with a triangle and once I get someone in there, I can go into other moves or use my other arm to cut off their airway."

Training is just as important as technique and mindset to keep up combative skills and win a bout.

Pvt. Eric "The Virus" Varela, originally from Oceanside, Calif., a multiple launch rocket system crewmember for Btry. C, 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., trains as often as he can at the gym with people of different levels and said that he is always learning new techniques. Varela fought the heavyweight match and kept his title by forcing his opponent into submission.

"I train Tuesdays and Thursdays and am constantly rolling with people better than me to learn new techniques and practice the ones that I already know," said Varela. "I hope to go to a combatives level four class and improve my skills."

Combatives training is a skill all Soldiers should know, and the King of the Hill 2 challenge gives Soldiers a chance to compete against other Soldiers in their weight class. Those who win have their name posted in the battalion area as King of the Hill.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brinton, 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., supports combatives tournaments and says that even with increasing technology Soldiers need to be ready for anything.

"Combative tournaments give Soldiers an incentive to do well, promote esprit de corps, build teamwork within the battery, and teach close hand-to-hand techniques," said Brinton. "You never know what conditions you will find on the battlefield so we want our Soldiers well trained."

The 13 King of the Hill 2 challengers stepped into the octagon and gave their all against their opponents. The Soldiers of First Strike will continue to train and practice until the next challenge where they will compete to see who will reigns as King of the Hill.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16