FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 18, 2019) -- Fort Sill Artillery Half Section Soldiers placed in all nine events at the National Cavalry Competition Sept. 24-29, at Fort Reno, Okla.
That included three first-place finishes: Spc. Zachary Punt in Mounted Saber Level 1; Spc. Joshua Guinn in Jumping Level 1; and Authenticity for World War I Era uniforms.
"They did outstanding," said Gerald Stuck, Half Section chief, who did not ride in the demonstrations. "They gained a lot of horsemanship experience and confidence."
The annual competition was sponsored by the U.S. Cavalry Association, which strives to keeps the cavalry spirit alive through riding events, and historical representations of horse soldiers, according to its website. Civilian and military organizations and individuals compete.
The Artillery Half Section is Fort Sill's equine Army special ceremonies unit. Its Soldiers come from the brigades here, and serve for one year in the special-duty assignment.
Punt said he felt good about winning the Level 1 (beginners) Mounted Saber competition.
"We only got about two hours of training with the sabers before we went to the competition," he said. "It's really cool that we did so well."
Spc. Randy Rogers finished third in Level 1 Field Jumping, and fourth in Level 1 Mounted Saber. She said the competition enhanced her leadership skills.
"In the chief position, I gained a lot of leadership abilities in keeping the team together," she said. "That entailed leading the team where they needed to go, and firing the gun during a pass-in-review."
Stuck added that Rogers rode his horse, General Dubia, in the competition.
"He's not an easy horse to ride, you have to be a very experienced rider," he said. "He (Dubia) did outstanding in the jumping and mounted saber because of her riding ability."
Pfc. Brian Ickes placed fourth in Level 1 Field Jumping and sixth in Level 1 Mounted Saber.
"It was fun competing, and getting to see all the Level 2 (novice) and Level 3 (advanced) riders compete," said Ickes, who has been riding for about one month.
The Half Section placed second in the Wheeled Competition, which is a timed land navigation route, Stuck said. The best time was taken from a team's two runs.
"On our second run we had them (Fort Hood) beat, then the last 100 feet our horses got out of a trot and went into a cantor and so were disqualified," the chief explained.
And, Fort Sill's Sgt. Mark Koehl won the Bugler competition.
During the Cavalry Competition, the Half Section Soldiers also supported the Oklahoma National Guard recruiters, Stuck said. When they weren't competing they spoke with potential candidates about the Army, and about their specific military occupational specialties.
Judges were particularly impressed by the conditioning, training, and grooming of the Half Section horses, Stuck said. This resulted in the Half Section being invited to perform a unit demonstration witnessed by hundreds of local elementary school students and their parents, Stuck said.
Stuck said he sat in the crowd as the Half Section put on the demonstration, and heard comments of his Soldiers' professionalism.
"I have one of the best disciplined units of Soldiers," Stuck said. "They're representing the Army and Fort Sill."
The other Half Section members are: Sgt. David Naranjo-Cardona, noncommissioned officer in charge; Sgt. Issac Sorensen, Spc. Brandon Blount, Spc. Jacob Neuberg, Spc. Marcela Oliver, Spc. Shakeen Sellers, and Pfc. Cody Underwood.
Other Army units participating in the Cavalry Competition included forts Hood, Texas; Huachuca, Arizona; and Irwin, California. Stuck said.