FORT CARSON, Colo. - Soldiers of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, competed against each other in physical fitness, squad, platoon and company competitions to honor the brigade's crossing of the Rhine River during World War II.
"Seventy-one years ago today this brigade crossed the Rhine River from France into Germany," said Col. Curtis D. Taylor, commander, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "What we did that day marked the end of a 300 day campaign of one of the greatest military campaigns in history."
The 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. was the first U.S. unit to land on Utah Beach during World War II and the brigade helped liberate Paris on August 25, 1944 alongside the 2nd Armored Division.
In September 1944 the brigade fought in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, the longest single battle in the history of the U.S. Army, until December 1944 when they were called upon to repel a German offensive called the Battle of the Bulge.
On March 30, 1945, the brigade crossed the Rhine River and two weeks later captured the German city of Nuremberg.
"As you look at these colors, there's a legacy in this brigade," said Taylor. "We are part of that legacy, we benefit from that, we cherish that and we make those who served and fought underneath those colors proud."
The morning began with a fitness competition where four Soldiers from each company performed as many squats, bench press, dead lifts, pull-ups and sit-ups as possible. They had two minutes for each event with no rest in between.
"It was brutal," said Cpl. Christopher Durante, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div.
During the squad event, teams of nine Soldiers from each company competed for the best time of completion through a course designed to test them on teamwork, basic Soldier tasks and endurance.
"It was about staying as a group," said Sgt. 1st Class Alfredo Reyna, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "At the end it was all heart. The guys gave it all they had to cross the finish line together."
"I did something like this back when I was a young Soldier and I still remember it 12 years later," added Reyna, a native of Dallas, Texas.
A platoon competition tested the commander and first sergeant from each company in land navigation course with various leader tasks.
The day culminated with a brigade-wide competition involving an arduous course with three obstacles representing historical battles.
Soldiers low-crawled through trenches under concertina wire to honor the brigade's first battle during the Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I. The brigade earned the nickname of "Raiders" because of the knife combat in the trenches.
In the second event Soldiers dragged a weighted-down sled in remembrance of the brigade's landing on Utah Beach during World War II. After landing on the beach, Soldiers had to drag their vehicles and equipment through marshes to aid fellow units in combat.
The final event required companies to carry logs to the peak of a steep hill in honor of the brigade's combat during the Vietnam War in the central highlands of Vietnam.
Winners were awarded at the end of the day and Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., established themselves as the best in the brigade by winning the overall competition.
"We keep motivated, keep physical training different so Soldier stay excited about it and train," said 1st Sgt. Philip Streagle, Company C, 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Never quit, always take pride and always do your best."