By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 15, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Soldiers are only as strong as their brothers and sisters in arms, and for one group of advanced individual training Soldiers, learning how to work together helped them overcome obstacles.
Thirty-six Soldiers in six teams took part in the A Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment Warrior Challenge March 10 as a means to not only test the Soldiers' physically, but to see how well they could work as a team, according to 1st Lt. Lucero Melendez A Co., 1-13th Avn. Regt., company executive officer.
"It's all about support and for them to see all the benefits that come out of it," said Melendez. "They should have really come to realize what teamwork actually looks like, and also spend some time working on their weaknesses and where to apply their strengths -- it's all about teamwork."
The competition consisted of a reverse Army Physical Fitness Test, obstacle course, Humvee push and ruck march. During the APFT, each Soldier had to take part in a 2-mile run, as well as perform two minutes of pushups and sit-ups.
Following the reverse APFT, the teams headed over to the NCO Academy to take on the obstacle course that consisted of a bear crawl through sand, a reverse climb, tire run, wall climb and rope climb. Immediately after the course, each team member took part in a pull-up competition.
The competitors then headed over to Beaver Lake for the 25-meter Humvee push, and immediately had to transition into a 4-mile ruck march wearing 25-pound packs.
"This was focused on building esprit de corps and building teamwork among the ranks," said the company commander. "We want to get the Soldiers to learn how to work together with each other -- it builds up unit morale and unit cohesion."
Of the six teams that competed, one team came out on top: the Black team, which consisted of Pvts. 1st Class, Jeffrey Ramos and Christian Ramos; and Pvts. Justin Mabry, Tristen Palmer, Jeremy Younger and Rebecca Sarmiento.
For many of the team members, competing in the competition was about being able to set goals and achieve them.
"I'm always looking to achieve that next goal, so for this competition I was looking to push myself a little bit further," said Jeffrey. "I hadn't pushed myself since basic training, so I wanted to push myself a little bit more to achieve that extra step."
"I just saw this as an opportunity and I jumped at it," added Christian. "We heard about this challenge, so I figured it would be a good place to make my mark to set a footprint, set a goal and set something I can surpass."
Although each of the Soldiers started the competition individually with the APFT, they quickly realized that without their teammates, they wouldn't be able to pull out a win.
"It doesn't really matter who you know, it's just a matter of what the goal is, and if you all work together you can achieve the same goal," said Mabry. "In my Army career, I'll see a lot more challenges, and this was a good way to test myself and see how far I can go."
"Coming together as a team is really important and I think the most difficult challenge was in fact the ruck march," added Sarmiento. "We were able to (get through that) because we were able to come together as a team. It was not easy. My legs were hurting and you definitely felt the whole competition before that, but just the ability to come together as a team. We started as six individuals, but came together to form one team, and that really helped us succeed in the competition."
Each winner was presented a coin and a certificate of achievement by Col. Jason Miller, 1st Aviation Brigade commander, and Lt. Col. Kevin E. McHugh, 1-13th Avn. Regt. commander. Each competitor was also presented with certificates of achievement, which were worth five promotion points.
"I've (witnessed) about five of these competitions and this is probably the best one that I have seen," said McHugh. "This is all about collective effort. We started off with individual events and ended up with teams working together as a team, and that is what this is all about. That's why you're all here -- teamwork. All of you did a great job."