GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Soldiers gathered in the early, dark hours of June 6 to participate in an event designed to test the limits of their strength and will.The 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th MP Brigade held its annual D-Day Challenge to commemorate the sacrifices of the original D-Day service members.MP Soldiers from 615th, 527th, 92nd, 529th and 554th companies celebrated the 70th anniversary of D-Day by participating in a day-long competition that started before 3:00 a.m. and ended well after 4:00 p.m.Cadre of the contest ensured a safe yet trying event.Staff Sgt. Robert Sweeny of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and a native of Mobile, Alabama, said, "It took about three weeks of planning and preparing. We try to build on past events and make it more physically and mentally challenging as we go."For this year's culminating event, officials required participating units to enter a three-member team."This is our second time conducting the D-Day Challenge as a team event," said Capt. Garret Waugh of HHD and a native of Kewanee, Illinois. "It's better for the esprit de corps, builds camaraderie and team cohesiveness," Waugh added.Some of the contestants also considered the team aspect a plus.
"We were able to accomplish the tasks easier because as a team we played to our strengths," said 2nd Lt. Shane Crawford of the 527th MP Company and a native of Fort Worth, Texas.A few of the events in this year's D-Day challenge included a two-mile run in full Army Combat Uniform with a litter carry during the up-hill portion, a team pull-up match, a rough terrain trail, written tests, a HMWWV push and a Blue Force Tracker exercise.All participating Soldiers, including the 527th MP Company winners, seemed to agree the contest was physically taxing.Sgt. Brett Peronto of 527th MP Company, and a native of Denmark, Wisconsin, said, "I won one of the competitions last year, but this one has been a little more difficult."Second Lt. Sara Sbararo of the 615th MP Company, and a native of Denver, considered the experience tough but fun."It's a great event, and it's fun," said Sbararo. "But it's been physically and mentally testing."