By Sgt. Elizabeth Jones, 19th Public Affairs DetachmentMay 4, 2018
Three two-man teams from the 1st Infantry Division competed in the 2018 Lieutenant General Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, April 16-19.
Finishing in second place overall were 1st Lt. Thomas Hoyt and Sgt. Gary Coggins with 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div.
"We had worked together before and because we have had such a long work history, we were definitely able to play on each other's strengths and fill in for each other's weaknesses," Hoyt, from Rockville, Maryland, said.
Hoyt and Coggins were able to use each other's strengths and camaraderie in order to finish second out of 40 teams.
The BSC is an annual, five-day interservice competition which allows for teams of engineers from different branches of the armed services to test and hone their skills while demonstrating mobility, counter-mobility and survivability tactics.
"When the country has a tough mission, they call the Army," said retired Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers, the 50th chief of engineers, while he address the services members. "When the Army has a very tough mission, it calls on the sapper."
The BSC was recently renamed to recognize Flowers for his contributions in creating the competition and having the Sapper Tab authorized to wear on the Army's duty uniform in 2004.
The goal of the competition is for the competitors to function both mentally and physically while completing in stringent military engineer -- or sapper -- tasks and facing extreme conditions such as minimal sleep, minimal nutrients and rugged terrain.
"You don't need to know when the end is. The enemy is not going to tell us when they're going to stop," said Master Sgt. Jason Poulin, a native of Hernando, Mississippi, and coach of 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., sapper teams. "The best sapper competition is asking people who already go above and beyond their peers to do something harder. It's amazing to see that heart come out in the competitors."
Some of the challenges and collection of tasks the sappers had to overcome throughout the competition were demolition calculations and placement, land navigation, swimming and handling foreign weapons.
Without having an advance notice of what the next challenge or task would be, the competitors had to rely on their teammates for perseverance and motivation along the way.
"I don't think I've ever been more motivated in a competition than with Lt. Hoyt," said Coggins, a native of Mountain Home, Arkansas. "No matter how much either of us were hurting, he just didn't want to quit."
Hoyt and Coggins were also the winners of the X-mile event, a collection of six objectives on the final day of competition which tested their ability to execute platoon or smaller element-level engineer tasks.
The 10th place finishers were 2nd Lt. Andrew Soulis from Grayslake, Illinois, and 1st Lt. Paul O'Brien of East Ridgewater, Massachusetts, both assigned to 1st Eng. Bn., 1st ABCT.
First Lt. Ryan Reagin, of Biloxi, Mississippi, and Capt. Michael Ecklund, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, both assigned to 1st Eng. Bn., were the squad and demolition event winners event though they finished in the 11th place.