USAES announces 2021 Best Sapper Competition winners
1 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capts. Darius Javan (right) and Patrick Richardson, from the 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were announced the winners of the 2021 Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers Best Sapper Competition during an awards ceremony May 4 at Nutter Field House. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill) VIEW ORIGINAL
Capt. Manuel Ramirez and 1st Lt. Johnathan Trent carry their poncho raft May 1 after swimming across the lake at Training Area 250.
2 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Manuel Ramirez and 1st Lt. Johnathan Trent carry their poncho raft May 1 after swimming across the lake at Training Area 250. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Lt. Madison Jones crosses a rope bridge during the Round Robin events May 1 at Training Area 98.
3 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Madison Jones crosses a rope bridge during the Round Robin events May 1 at Training Area 98. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Lt. Jordan Nettles places an improvised shaped charge May 2 at Range 26.
4 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Jordan Nettles places an improvised shaped charge May 2 at Range 26. (Photo Credit: Photo by Ryan Thompson, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Wolber and Staff Sgt. Tyler Adams complete a thermal breach May 1 near Forney Airfield during the Round Robin events.
5 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Wolber and Staff Sgt. Tyler Adams complete a thermal breach May 1 near Forney Airfield during the Round Robin events. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Lt. Joel Wilson and Sgt. 1st Class Louie Smith rappel from a UH-60 helicopter May 3 to kick off the X-Mile event near Gammon Field.
6 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Joel Wilson and Sgt. 1st Class Louie Smith rappel from a UH-60 helicopter May 3 to kick off the X-Mile event near Gammon Field. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
1st Lt. Eric Mattia and Staff Sgt. Martin Carreon extract a simulated casualty May 1 during the Care Under Fire lane of the Round Robin events on Gammon Field.
7 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Eric Mattia and Staff Sgt. Martin Carreon extract a simulated casualty May 1 during the Care Under Fire lane of the Round Robin events on Gammon Field. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dawn Arden, Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — U.S. Army Engineer School and Sapper Training Company leaders announced the winners of the 14th Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers Best Sapper Competition Tuesday at Nutter Field House.

This year’s winners are Capts. Darius Javan and Patrick Richardson, from the 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Javan and Richardson beat out 92 other enlisted, officer and cadet competitors representing 20 Army installations.

The competition tested each two-person team in more than 40 tasks over 50 consecutive hours.

During his remarks at the awards ceremony, Brig. Gen. Mark Quander, USAES commandant, said the Sapper creed is “a way of life — a mindset.”

“Every competitor here proved they were willing to live this out over the past three days,” he said.

Quander called each competitor inspiring.

“Congratulations on a job well done and a fight well fought,” he said. “Each of you came here trained and proficient and you came into the competition blind. You didn’t know what you’d be tested on, you didn’t know the scoring criteria … you had to fight and compete and thrive in the element of the unknown.”

Richardson, from Athens, Illinois, previously competed in the BSC in 2018. He said to win “feels pretty fantastic.”

“We worked hard for it,” he said. “Our strategy was to stay steady, stay together, run our own race. I’m very proud of what we both did — our teamwork and our perseverance.”

“We came here with the intent to win, so it feels pretty good to know we accomplished what we set out to do,” Javan added.

The team of Javan and Richardson spent three months preparing for this year’s competition, but they seem to have been preordained to work together since long before they were even commissioned. They graduated from the U.S. Military Academy together in 2016, and attended the Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course here together.

“We then went our separate ways — he went to Fort Carson, Colorado, and I went to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington,” said Javan, who grew up in Vacaville, California.

They next happened to attend the Sapper Leader Course here at the same time in 2017.

“We were in the same Sapper squad together,” Javan said. “We did land navigation together, poncho rafts together — I leaned on him heavily during the entire course.”

They ended up being reunited here again for Captains Career Course.

“We were not just in the same course, but in the same small group, sitting at the same table together,” Javan said.

And after CCC, they were chosen for the only two assignment slots available at Fort Campbell at the time.

“It’s truly a rendezvous with destiny,” Javan added.

See more photos of the competition on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.