By Maj. Bill Drew, 80th Training Command Public AffairsSeptember 29, 2014
FORT KNOX, KY. -- Staff Sgt. Jason O'Farrell, C Co, 4/321st, and Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Wierzbick, A Co, 3/399th Logistical Support Brigade were the top performers, respectively, in the driver and mechanic categories of the 800th LSB's Logistical Training Exercise, also known as a "Truck Rodeo," here Sept. 18-20, 2014.
Staff Sgt. Jason O'Farrell and Spc. Brian Daniels, C Co. 4/321st were the event's top performing team.
The 3/399th earned the coveted battalion cup, the award that represents the best performing battalion during the competition.
Each competitor received a winner's trophy and Army Achievement Medal from Col. Clarence Combs, 80th Training Command deputy operations officer accompanied by Command Sgt. Maj. James Wills, 80th command sergeant major during an awards ceremony at a banquet hall on post. Lt. Col. Robert Richmond accompanied by Command Sgt. Maj. Shelby Helms, the 3/399th commander and senior noncommissioned officer, accepted the battalion cup on behalf of their command.
"I feel good about winning the competition," Wiezbick said. "Deployments and 16 years in the Army certainly help."
The LTX assesses the competence level of Army truck drivers and wheeled vehicle mechanics regarding their primary missions of providing transportation and maintenance services.
"The truck rodeo creates a healthy, competitive environment that bolsters esprit de corps, camaraderie, and teamwork within the units of the 800th LSB," said Col. Howard Geck, commander of the 800th LSB. "We provide an excellent opportunity for increasing driver and maintenance training and reinforcement of common Soldier task training."
During the event, competitors teamed together as driver and mechanic to negotiate the multiple stations in order to accrue the most points. Some stations focused primarily on the driver's skillsets with the mechanic assisting while others focused on the mechanic's skillsets with the driver assisting.
New to the truck rodeo this year, was the use of terrain similar to that of countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, a night driving course in which competitors used night vision optics and a "mystery lane" that simulated an IED attack which warranted performing first aid and calling for air medical evacuation.
One competitor, Spc. Rogelio Perez of the 3/379th, Barling, Alabama, said, "The competition had good training value for me. We actually did not use hardball roads, but used rough terrain and night-vision goggles for night driving operations."
When asked about the mystery lane, Perez said, "I did not expect that at all. The fake blood used really made it seem like a real injury."
The evaluation point system came down to fractions of points in delineating between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.
"The competition is similar to the Best Warrior Competition in that the best of the best come to compete," Richmond said. "It is a tough, realistic training environment that I hope brings more competitors and bolsters the 80th Training Command."
"I have competed before and I always hope to see more volunteers compete each year," said Wiezbeck. "It is good training for all of us."