By Sgt. Liane HatchFebruary 7, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Junior and senior officers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade teamed up across Fort Drum during the first week of February for the second annual "Muleskinner Avalanche," a orientation event designed to honor unit history and build esprit de corps.
The event, which took place over two days, kicked off with a "Medal of Honor" run during physical training, taking several teams of approximately 10 officers along a 5-mile run, with stops at Magrath and Monti gyms and Hays Hall, where they honored some of the 10th Mountain Division (LI)'s Medal of Honor recipients.
After that, the teams received a unit history brief and conducted a gear layout, and set off to complete six challenge lanes spread across post, each designed to honor the Muleskinner history, test Soldier skills, push the officers physically and mentally, and build them up as teammates.
The event concluded with a board, where the officers were expected to remember and recite the lessons they'd learned through the day.
2nd Lt. Gabriela Montanez, who has been with the brigade for nine months, said she learned a lot during the challenge and gained a greater appreciation for the challenges that sustainment Soldiers faced in early division history.
"I learned that I can withstand these cold temperatures and do what the mission requires," she said. "It was as emotionally challenging as it was physically challenging, and sometimes I felt more like the mule than the Muleskinner, but I learned that I could do these things, and I got to see new ways of approaching problems, which was really cool."
Last year, brigade commander Col. Shawn Schuldt designed the event as a way to introduce new officers into the unit and build a sense of camaraderie and pride.
"I think it's really important for us to come together and honor the brave men and women who have gone before us and paved the way," said Schuldt.
"This year we got a lot more into the history of the unit and how sustainment Soldiers have supported the climb throughout history," he said. "This is a way to pay tribute to that and to grow closer as leaders."
Some of this year's events included a tree-sawing event, looking back to Fort Drum's roots as Pine Camp, a casualty obstacle course, and an event memorializing Bill Bowerman, a sustainment Soldier who used mules to get supplies to the 10th Infantry Division Soldiers in the mountains of Italy during World War II. Bowerman would later go on to co-found Nike.
In addition to the unique physical and mental challenges at each lane, officers performing the tasks on the second day of the event had to face temperatures as cold as 5 degrees, with biting wind chills.
"Being out there doing those challenges in the snow and the cold, it gave me a greater appreciation and admiration for what the Muleskinners went through," Montanez said. "I can't imagine having to climb up cliffs to deliver supplies, but they did it."