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Soldiers from the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade hold tightly to ropes steadying a missile launcher while competing for the Garner's Cup June 25. Crews were evaluated on their career field specific knowledge and capabilities to prepare the Patriot system for movement and setup.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- The 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade hosted the return of the Garner's Cup Competition June 25 at the Henry Post Army Airfield.

The competition determined the best Patriot launching station and guided missile transport reload crews within the brigade.

Crews were evaluated on their military occupational specialty knowledge and capabilities to prepare their equipment for movement and setup for firing. At the end of the competition, the best fire control and launcher platoons as well as the best firing battery were determined.

The Garner Cup was last held at Fort Bliss, Texas in 2001. The competition is named after retired Lt. Gen. Jay Montgomery Garner, the former deputy commanding general of Fort Bliss. He is credited with helping develop the Patriot missile system.

"This is the first time we've attempted something like this in at least 11 years," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Seebeck.

The event focused on basic Soldiers' skills related to the Patriot system: how to place, reload and move their launchers.

"This year we are only focusing on our brigade, whereas next year we're opening up to a sister brigade down at Fort Hood and another at Fort Bliss. We are trying to get this back as a branch to be competitive," said Seebeck.

He added the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken Patriot crew members away from their core expertise.

However, as the war draws down he envisioned a return to competitions to keep Soldier readiness high.

"This is a chance for us to get back and say, 'Yes, we are truly the best air defense brigade,'" said Seebeck.

After all of the crews finished the competition, an awards ceremony was held June 28 to announce the winners.

D Battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd ADA took home individual medals for best guided missile transporter missile reload team. The team consisted of Staff Sgt. Timothy Ohlin, Sgt. Jeremy Gottlob, Pfcs. Tabitha Rodriguez, Haroon Butt and Quintin Hicks.

The winners of the PAC-2 launching station, who also took home individual medals, were A Battery, 4-3rd ADA. The battery included Cpl. Edward Han and Pfc. Shane Cox.

All individual winners received the Army Commendation Medal. After the medals were handed out, the winner of the Garner Cup was announced.

"I'm very proud of your accomplishments, and the efforts of all who competed," said Col. Daniel Garcia, 31st ADA Brigade commander, as he addressed the winners and the entire brigade.

"We've been blessed to be the best crew and the best troops on post and this competition showed that," said Capt. Don Palermo.

"Winning this competition gives the Soldiers bragging rights and bragging rights creates camaraderie, so it's a positive thing," said 1st Sgt. Jeramy Dearmon. "We will win again at the next competition."

The competitors were just as excited.

"Winning this competition just proves that we worked hard the entire time we've been here," said Rodriguez.

"We are the best," agreed Gottlob and Butt.

Garcia plans to hold the competition again in six months.

Page last updated Thu July 5th, 2012 at 00:00