By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 22, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- From early on, Soldiers are taught that they are only as good as their fellow Soldiers, and one group of advanced individual training Soldiers got the chance to put that to the test.
Nearly 30 Soldiers in nine teams of three got the chance to compete in the A Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, AIT Warrior Challenge on West Beach at Lake Tholocco June 20, which had teams mixing Soldier skills with physical tasks to test their mettle and promote teamwork to work toward a common goal, according to Capt. Jacen Lanclos, company commander.
"This is a good team-building event for the Soldiers," he said. "This is kind of their first opportunity in the military to work as a team. In basic training it's about you making those basic Soldier tasks. This is about teamwork."
The winning team for this quarter's competition was Team Yellow, which consisted of Pvts. Isiah Williams and Camillo Loyuk, and Pfc. Tyler Meche, who were each presented a battalion coin and certificate of achievement by Lt. Col. Kevin McHugh, 1-13th Avn. Regt. commander.
"This Saturday you guys did very, very well," said the battalion commander. "What you do right now is to ensure team excellence in everything that you do. When we see excellence and see Soldiers who are striving to do great things, this is a small token of appreciation in recognition of their accomplishment."
Throughout the competition, competitors started with an early morning, 6-1/2-mile road march while carrying 25-pound rucksacks, as well as a 35-pound sand bag shared between the team. As they traversed the road-march course, there were six checkpoints each team had to stop at and perform a land-navigation event.
In order to complete the road march in the quickest time, the Soldier competitors had to work together, as well as share the load of the 35-pound sand bag.
"What that does is if you've got a team with a weak link, the strong person might have to carry that sand bag a little further, but just like with everything, you can't carry all the weight yourself," said Lanclos. "If you're tired and you're smoked, you don't want to carry that sandbag, but you've got to look at your battle buddy who's suffering carrying it and say, 'I'll take my turn.' That's ultimately how you can be the fastest team, by sharing the weight."
Following the road march, team members competed in three individual triathlon-style events, which included a 6-1/2-mile bike ride, 3-mile run and 300-meter swim, and although the Soldiers were meant to compete individually, it was still about the team, said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Frasher, A Co., 1-13th Avn. Regt. platoon sergeant and coordinator for the event.
"Even though they were individual events, they were still competing for their team," he said. "There were four graded events -- one team event and three individual -- but they all counted towards a team score."
The team mentality is what helps drive the Soldiers to push through the events, even when they might feel the need to give up, added Lanclos.
"If you're doing the running leg and you're running that 3 miles, and, as an individual, you're tired," said the company commander. "If it was just about you, you might quit. But you're out there and you know that your teammate might be struggling in the water -- are they going to quit? No. Knowing that, that drives you."
Working as a team is the ultimate lesson for the Soldiers to learn, he said, but furthermore, it's for Soldiers to strive for excellence.
Although the competitors were all volunteers, only those who represented the unit in the highest of standards were allowed to compete.
"Soldiers who compete must be at the top of their game and can't be facing any adverse action, failing any classes or have any strikes against them," said Lanclos. "It's important that when we recognize somebody, [that recognition] should go to the Soldiers who are doing the right thing day in and day out. The rest of the formation sees those who are being rewarded and then they want to be that person."