By Mr. Timothy Oberle (8th Army)May 6, 2015
YONGSAN, Republic of Korea (May 4, 2015) -- Soldiers grappled, punched, and clinched their way to be named Eighth Army Modern Army Combatives Tournament Champions May 2 at the Collier Community Fitness Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea.
The tournament is held annually as a way to help Eighth Army Soldiers develop the Warrior Ethos and prepare them to close with and defeat the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.
Units throughout Eighth Army send teams to the tournament each year and for the third straight year in a row the 2nd Infantry Division took home the Championship trophy.
Despite this being the 3rd consecutive year for the Warrior Division to take home top honors, it still meant a lot to Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew J. Spano, the senior enlisted leader for the 2nd Inf. Div., because he knew how much work went into bringing home the trophy this year.
"My heart just swells of pride for these warriors…who have been preparing the whole winter getting ready for this," said Spano. "They really deserve this win and I'm really proud of these fighters that came down here to represent the division."
As part of the tournament Eighth Army awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three competitors from seven different weight classes.
The gold medal winners from each weight class included: Pvt. Marcus Waller, 2nd Infantry Division (Flyweight), Spc. Darren Barnett, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (Lightweight), Sgt. First Class. Paris Childress, 1st Signal Brigade (Welterweight), Pvt. Victor Cruz, 1st Sig. Bde. (Middleweight), Pvt. Keith Harding, 65th Medical Bde (Cruiserweight), Pvt. Tyler Beaulac, 1st Sig. Bde (Light-Heavyweight) and Cpl. Ryan Smith, 2nd Inf. Div. (Heavyweight).
Following his win in the Welterweight championship round, Childress, a maintenance support team NCOIC and native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y spoke on what the tournament means for Soldiers here in the Republic of Korea.
"It was great to get all of the Soldiers out here for a little friendly competition, but at the end of the day everybody still hugged it out," said Childress. I have competed for the last few years at different levels including All-Army, but the competition today stood up to what I thought it would. Nobody shows up to a tournament to lose and it just happened to be my day."