By T. Anthony BellApril 21, 2016
FORT LEE, Va. (April 21, 2016) -- They flipped 200-pound tires to and fro.
They carried 155mm howitzer shells along trails.
And they ran and biked amongst the hallowed grounds of a historic battlefield where warriors shed blood more than a century ago.
The 348 contestants who participated in Saturday's Ordnance Amazing Race that took place at the Petersburg National Battlefield did not engage in mortal combat, but they did battle the obstacles, their own limitations and each other in a competition boasting physical and mental challenges.
"It was a great event," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Morris, Regimental CSM, Ord. Corps and School. "Brig. Gen. (Kurt) Ryan (Chief of Ordnance) and I were extremely pleased with the leaders and Soldiers interacting and competing this past weekend. It's all about team-building and empowering leaders and Soldiers to work as a team."
The six-mile course that wound through the trails of PNB adjacent to Fort Lee required four-man teams to carry ammo cans, litters, water jugs and 155mm howitzer shells. They also flipped 200-pound tires about 100 yards, found points on a land navigation course, identified weapons, completed a quiz and performed maintenance tasks.
After the smoke cleared and participants' energy, muscles and brain cells were expended, an advanced individual training team from Delta Company, 832nd Ordnance Battalion had claimed victory. The squad -- Pfc. Winston Lawrence, Pvt. Albert Quaynor, Pfc. Zackery Weinrich and Pvt. Daniel Ordazzavale -- completed the course in a blazing one hour and 21 minutes.
As was the case in the first Ordnance Challenge in November, large numbers of advanced individual training Soldiers turned out for second event in the series. Many of them wearing wrap-around sunglasses, they laughed, joked and bantered prior to the race and were quick to shout out a 'hooah' or their company mottos.
Pvt. Kaseem Jackson, an AIT Soldier assigned to Alpha Company, 832nd Ord. Bn., said his fellow Soldiers were motivated to compete.
"We like a challenge," said the Soldier whose Alpha Gators team finished in 1:52. "We like to compete. Gator Nation gets busy, and if there's something to win, we're coming to get it."
For those who were participating in the name of unit pride, there were just as many who were competing against themselves. Pvt. Matthew Gatin, also of Alpha Co., 832nd Ord. Bn., said he wanted to see how he would fare on an individual level.
"I wanted to push myself; motivate myself into doing it," he said. "It was a six-mile course, and I haven't run that long in a while. I just wanted to prove myself."
Regardless of the reason, Soldiers participated, it was enough to warrant the support of the many platoon sergeants, instructors, administrators and cadre assigned to the various Ordnance Corps components here. At least those were the thoughts of participant 1st Lt. Jensen Pickett, executive officer, Charlie Company, 832nd Ord. Bn.
"Number one, I wanted to support the organization," said the executive officer, "and No. 2, if my Soldiers are going to do this, I want to do it as well. It shows support for them. If they take the time to come and participate, we're going to do the same."
Each of the first-place winners were presented trophies for their efforts.
The race was part of the Ordnance Challenge series that tests Soldiers mental and physical capacities as well as their abilities to work as teams. It is the brainchild of the branch commander.