By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 16, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 16, 2013) -- Like a scene out of a horror movie, Soldiers broke through a low-hanging fog that blanketed the installation as they competed against each other to earn one of Fort Rucker's most coveted titles.
Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, participated in the Aviation Captain's Career Course Iron Aviator Competition May 9, but only one would earn the title of Iron Aviator.
Capt. Kevin Power came out on top as the competitor finishing all four events as an individual, with a time of 1:52:32; and the team winner was Team Disc Qualified, with a time of 1:47:32.
"It feels really good to win," said Power. "My team is out here supporting me and helping me get all my stuff together, so it was a huge team effort and it was nice to have them here to help me finish the race first."
The competition is a good opportunity for Soldiers to test out their physical fitness, compete against each other and build esprit de corps, said Capt. Adam Schaffer, officer in charge for the event, adding that many Soldiers also participated as a means to spend time with one another.
"Iron Aviator is the premier event for Aviation worldwide," he said, "pitting technically and tactically proficient officers against each other [in] the toughest competition on Fort Rucker.
"It's also one of the last events of the [Captain's Career Course]," said Shcaffer. "They graduate soon, so it's one of the last opportunities to bond and challenge each other."
During the event, Soldiers competed individually or as a team, and endured four different events that tested their will and courage, he said. The four events included a 4.5-mile ruck march, 300-meter swim, 10k bike ride and 2.5-mile run.
Although all four events combined made for an extremely challenging competition, most Soldiers, including Power, said the hardest part of was the ruck march.
"The ruck is pretty difficult and you've got to train for a ruck usually beforehand," said Power, adding that during the ruck event, Soldiers must carry about 30 pounds of equipment throughout the 4.5-mile course, and that's the part that makes it so difficult.
Power didn't start the race in front and even took a wrong turn during the ruck-march event, putting him almost six minutes behind the leader. The bike event is where he was truly able to shine, and make up for lost ground, managing to overtake the leader and eventually win the competition.
"Fortunately, on the bike there is a lot of opportunity where you can just cruise," he said. "Then when I got on the run [event], I was able to just pace myself, and it really helped having my team cheer and motivate me throughout the race."
No matter the outcome of the race, Schaffer said he was proud of all the Soldiers that participated in the competition, both on and off the field.
"I think they all did an outstanding job during the competition," he said. "It sounds easy on paper and it may look like a short ruck march, short bike or short run, but you combine them all with the heat, elevation and terrain, and it can get quite challenging."
Awards were given to each of the winners after the event, and a special award was given to the best pit crew for excellence in support rendered to competitors. In an Iron Aviator first, the award went to an individual rather than a team.
Capt. Kyle Towns was awarded the Excellence in Crewing award for his dedication to his team, and carrying what many described to be a purse back and forth from each event.