By Staff Sgt. Mark A. Moore II, 2nd Brigade Combat Team JournalistJuly 30, 2015
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (July 30, 2015) -- Approximately 35 troopers assigned to 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment "Wolverines," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), paid tribute to their past during the McChrystal - Briles Competition held July 23 on Fort Drum.
The event is named after Lt. Col. Herbert J. McChrystal and Staff Sgt. Herschel F. Briles -- both prominent figures in the troopers' history. In 1941, McChrystal became the first commander of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion, a precursor to the 89th Cavalry Regiment. Briles was recognized for his actions during a firefight near Scherpenseel, Germany, in 1944, for which he earned the Medal of Honor.
"This competition focused on leadership and a trooper's physical abilities to complete events that tie back to the history of the 899th and Briles' accomplishments in earning the Medal of Honor," explained Capt. Gregory Holmes, A Troop commander.
Each troop within the squadron assembled a team of seven Soldiers to participate in the round-robin-structured competition.
Stations included a rope climb, vehicle maintenance, combined obstacle course and casualty evacuation lane, weapons assembly, setting up a radio, crossing water on a single rope bridge, and an electronic weapons simulator. Teams also moved from one event to another on foot with a fully loaded ruck on their back.
"Adaptability was a big part of this event," said 1st Lt. Marc Lamothe, platoon leader with C Troop. "We were given obstacles with no prior briefing, and (we) were given equipment that was made available to us but not required for use. So it was up to us as a team to pitch ideas on how we wanted to tackle each event."
Lamothe noted that the water crossing station was the most challenging in that the equipment provided to accomplish the mission left the final solution very open ended.
The event itself is based on the Battle for Remagen, Germany, when Soldiers assigned to the 899th captured the Ludendorff Bridge, securing the only access point to the heart of Germany over the Rhine River.
"So our elements (teams) here show up to a one-rope bridge that is already pre-constructed, and their mission is to get supplies from one side to the other, similar to what the 899th had to do during WWII," Holmes explained.
Finding his own place in 1-89 Cavalry's history was Spc. Ricky Temple, B Troop, who took to heart the vignettes read before each event.
"What these men had to go through and the difficulties they faced made going through these obstacles very surreal," he said. "(The competition is) tough, and you kind of get an idea of what they did to accomplish their missions."
Temple attributed communication during a surprise tie-breaking event as the key to his team's success and final victory over Headquarters and Headquarters Troop.
"I feel like we had a well-balanced team," he explained. "We communicated well; we picked that up really fast.
"We knew there was no way we were going to get through without communicating."