FORT BRAGG, N.C. - About 40 Fort Bragg Soldiers saddled up during last week's rodeo at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds ready to face the steer of their life. The competitors left their cowboy hats and spurs at home, but came ready to test their driving and mechanic skills in the 3rd Annual Truck Rodeo May 25 through Friday.
The truck rodeo was hosted this year by Company B, Support Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (Airborne).
"With the optempo of Fort Bragg, we try to contact everyone including the Air Force to bring the logistic sides together so that everybody can learn from each other. Also, it gives Soldiers a chance to take a time out from their regular missions and a chance to show some skills, make new friends and talk," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Lewis a truck driver and transportation management coordinator, Support Bn., SWTG, USAJFKSWCS.
Rodeo action that put Soldiers to the test included eight stations requiring them to change a tire on a M1078 light medium tactical vehicle, perform preventative maintenance checks and services on an LMTV, straight-line backing in an LMTV, navigate a serpentine course in an LMTV, parallel park a humvee, right turn a five-ton tractor trailer, alley dock an LMTV and a written test.
"This is a great way to show and improve transport Soldiers' skills and build espirit de corps. It is also a good morale booster involving us with different units across Fort Bragg," said Capt. Geno Fewell, company commander of Co. B, Support Bn., 1st SWTG, USAJFKSWCS.
For many of the Soldiers competing, this was their first truck rodeo experience. Spc. Don Gray, 29, a first-time competitor and heavy equipment operator in the 618th Engineer Support Company, 37th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, poured sweat as he worked to change the left front tire of an LMTV. Gray, a Phoenix, native, said he practiced for four days prior to the competition and that his unit gave him an advantage in the competition.
"Competition is always good for the spirit and being in the engineers, we haul everything. We also PMCS like crazy," said Gray with confidence.
A few minutes later, Spc. Matthew Hartman, 25, a truck driver with Co. B, Support Bn., 1st SWTG, USAJFKSWCS stepped up to the tire changing station. Hartman moved with skill and agility. At times, he made the challenge look simple, finishing with a time of 6:38.
"I think this was hardest event because it's timed, but I wasn't worried. I came out here to show everybody how good they're not," said Hartman, a Shasta Lake, Calif. native.
The Soldiers competed on three to five-man teams and individually. The top three scores in a team were calculated to determine the overall team score. Awards were given to the top three teams and individuals. In past truck rodeos, the Air Force was a top competitor. This year, due to the death of a comrade, the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron was unable to compete.
At the end of the day Friday, Co. B, Support Bn., 1st SWTG rode off into the the sunset as this year's top winners sweeping first and second place in the team category and taking the top three slots in the individual category.
"All in all, the truck rodeo was a success for all who participated and hopefully, we will have an even bigger crowd and better truck rodeo (next year)," said Lewis.