Muleskinners take on Best Warrior Competition in Afghanistan
March 22, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (March 22, 2012) -- There are times when Soldiers are afforded an opportunity to compete against one another in various fashions. Most Soldiers are familiar with the Soldier of the Month board, but once in a while, there is a competition where some of the top warriors compete.
Soldiers assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), participated in a Best Warrior Competition held March 10 at Bagram Airfield.
The brigade fielded three teams, which consisted of two Soldiers and a sponsor for support. The competition began with a briefing of the course events and objectives, followed by the first phase: a physical fitness challenge.
The challenge consisted of three minutes of pushups where Soldiers could alternate within their teams to do as many as possible during the allotted time. Three minutes of setups and three minutes of pull-ups followed to finish the first segment.
Before the second phase began, Soldiers were given a minute to look into a box that contained various objects. From there, they picked up a litter loaded with a few sandbags, weighing approximately 120 pounds, which they carried on a three-mile road march.
"My favorite event was the litter carry," said Spc. Fernando Lopez, a 10th Sustainment Brigade command driver. "It was physical, but mostly mentally challenging."
Lopez represented Task Force Muleskinner during the competition along with Sgt. Abraham Wallie, a team leader assigned to 10th Sustainment Brigade, who rated the litter carry event as his least favorite.
"It was very awkward and a difficult challenge to start so early in the event," Wallie said.
Cpl. Logan Maples, a team leader, and 1st Lt. Joe Maki, a platoon leader, both assigned to the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, received recognition for being the top team in the litter carry event.
Soldiers dropped their litters upon arriving at the obstacle course, which consisted of a number of tasks including a low crawl, a casualty carry and a wall climb.
Lopez said he enjoyed every obstacle; however, he wasn't too fond of the task where he had to sort ammunition cans. He said the obstacle course was the most challenging phase of the competition.
As time was still ticking, teams made their way to the marksmanship event. There they were tested on tasks to include a stress shoot and a reflexive fire incorporating quick magazine changes. For some Soldiers, the event was a welcome one.
"My favorite event was the stress shoot. I really enjoyed it," Wallie said.
The teams had a long way to go. After shooting a few rounds, they were instructed to go back to the starting point, which was approximately five miles away. Some walked; some ran; some did a combination of both.
Weary from the run, Soldiers approached the starting point only to encounter more tasks to be completed. Evaluate a casualty, request medical evacuation, assemble and operate a radio, map reading, and assembling various weapons were among the tasks Soldiers tackled.
With the day nearing its end, Soldiers were instructed to run approximately three miles before they faced the last event.
"Go hard or go home," said Lopez.
Although Wallie was extremely tired, he said he didn't want to let his battle buddy Lopez down.
They finished the run and slowly walked to their last event.
The last event seemed simple; competitors were asked to recall the items they saw in the box at the beginning of the competition, and then draw as many as they could in their exact place. Soldiers summoned their inner artist and completed the task within the allotted minute.
Some Soldiers made sure others knew what they felt at the culmination of the competition.
"Satisfaction," Lopez said. "Just being able to complete it felt great. The adrenalin was so much that I spent at least three hours awake waiting to relax."
The team of Lopez and Wallie placed in the top 10 in the Best Warrior Competition, along with Maples and Maki.