In the early morning hours Tuesday, Fort Leonard Wood's 787th Military Police Battalion held their monthly Iron Praetorian Challenge -- an event-based competition mirrored on the new Army Combat Fitness Test. They also used the opportunity to recognize three of their drill sergeants for helping the battalion dominate the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Quarter titles this year -- the 787th won three of the four quarters for fiscal year 2019.
"This event works to motivate our trainees to always place the mission first, to never accept defeat, never quit, and to never leave a fallen comrade," said Lt. Col. Frank Jennings, 787th MP Bn. commander. "We also use this as a venue to showcase our exceptional drill sergeants and to inspire our trainees to emulate their extraordinary performances."
For each of the drill sergeant quarterly MSCoE winners, the theme of teamwork comes to mind when hard work and recognition are mentioned.
"When I get recognized for my hard work, I think of all the hard work that everyone else around me has done to help me get where I am," said Staff Sgt. Angela Mishler, a drill sergeant with Company A and the first MSCoE Drill Sergeant of the Quarter for fiscal year 2019. "I think about my parents and how they built the foundation of a strong work ethic in me and my siblings. I think about all the hard work my husband does at home to take care of our boys and support me in my goals and desires. I think about all the hard work that my battle buddies do alongside me every day. I work hard and give 100 percent because of the motivation and hard work of all of those around me. (The 787th) are a team of teams that motivates and pushes each other to strive for excellence in all we do every day."
"The Iron Praetorian is the Soldiers' first experience of what esprit de corps really is," added Staff Sgt. Erik Rostamo, another Company A drill sergeant and third quarter FY19 MSCoE Drill Sergeant of the Quarter winner. "It means more to me to win a competition for the battalion and company that I belong to."
For Staff Sgt. Sarah Magness, a drill sergeant assigned to Company C and MSCoE's fourth and final Drill Sergeant of the Quarter for fiscal year 2019, having attention thrust upon her is only valuable in its ability to motivate others to succeed.
"I am not one that would normally put myself in the spotlight," she said. "However, if my achievements motivate others to want to be more successful, then I am honored to do so. The Iron Praetorian Challenge brings a sense of pride and honor to the companies. It shows their dedication and commitment to what we do here (at the battalion). Also, everyone wants to be top dog -- it is my hope that this will continue to be a tradition."
In addition to the drill sergeant winners, Staff Sgt. Roman Holguin of Company D was named top MSCoE noncommissioned officer for the third quarter of FY19.
According to Jennings, the challenge pits all five companies in the battalion each month in five to six rigorous events. Each company provides their top six trainees per event -- regardless of training phase -- and the company with the highest score earns the battalion's Iron Praetorian streamer to display on their company guidon until the next competition.
This month's challenge included push ups, sit ups, a sprint-drag-carry relay, a three-quarter mile relay run and a tire tug-o-war.
Company D won four of the five events.
"From day one at Delta Company, we immediately stress the importance of winning -- waking up every day and not just going through the motions but winning, and how important that mindset will be as they enter the Army," said Capt. Emily Gasvoda, Company D commander. "I'm incredibly proud of my Soldiers and cadre. We all woke up feeling dangerous and we all know and have internalized that winning matters, no matter what. We'll be looking to defend our title next month."
Jennings said he feels the trainees enjoy the esprit de corps, rigorous competition, and ability to demonstrate their warrior ethos.
"Through competing they honor our dedicated drill sergeants and cadre that transform them into disciplined Soldiers and warrior military police ready to assist, protect, and defend not only our own, but the families and civilians of the greater Army and joint communities across the globe," he said.
Following the competition, Jennings and Sgt. Maj. Michael Vaughn, acting battalion command sergeant major, recognized Mishler, Rostamo, Magness and Holguin with plaques bearing the Praetorian logo -- each staff sergeant was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal with their MSCoE quarterly wins.
"This is one of the finest battalions that you'll ever be a part of, because this caliber of leadership sets the example of what you need to be," Vaughn said.