Secretary of Army awards 'best Ranger'
April 18, 2011
- First Place: Master Sgt. Eric Turk & Sgt. Maj. Walter Zajkowski - Special Operations Command.
- Second Place: Staff Sgt. Charles Cogle & Spc. Chris Broussard 75th Ranger Regiment.
- Third Place: Sgt. 1st Class Mason Riepe & Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Santiago Ranger Training Brigade.
- The Best Ranger Competition is 60 continuous hours with no programmed sleep over a 60-mile area.
FORT BENNING, Ga., April 18, 2011 -- The "super team" of Sgt. Maj. Walter Zajkowski and Master Sgt. Eric Turk are the winners of the 2011 Best Ranger Competition.
At an awards ceremony today at Freedom Hall, Secretary of the Army John McHugh congratulated the teams on their accomplishment.
"I can't begin to express how truly impressed I was," said McHugh, who spent Sunday watching the competitors battle through the helocast and water confidence course before racing through the final buddy run. "It's truly a test of tactical, mental and technical proficiencies and those are the tools that every successful Soldier, every successful leader, has to have on the battlefield."
"Just qualifying for this competition says that you're among the best. But by finishing it, you are the very best," he said.
Zajkowski, a 2007 Best Ranger Competition champion, and Turk, who won last year, are the first repeat winners in more than two decades.
Turk is only the second competitor in Best Ranger Competition history to win the competition back to back.
Sgt. Paul Scurka is the only other two-time champ, winning the competition in 1985 and 1986.
Team 14 of the 75th Ranger Regiment and Team 42 of the Ranger Training Brigade rounded out the top finishers.
Team 14's Staff Sgt. Charles Cogle and Spc. Chris Broussard were in close competition with Zajkowski and Turk heading into Sunday. But the team faltered in a series of missteps at the Darby Queen Obstacle Course which led them to finish second overall.
Cogle said finishing second, while an honor is bittersweet and the pair is already planning another run at the title.
Of the 50 teams who began the competition before dawn Friday, only 31 crossed the finish line Sunday afternoon.