FORT LEE, Va. (May 18, 2021) – Multiple military teams from three training battalions competed in the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade Soldier Stakes Competition here May 14 at Williams Stadium.
It marked the return of a Sustainment Center of Excellence event that has not been conducted since 2019, with last year’s competition scrubbed due to the threat of COVID-19. Dragon Brigade organizers restructured it – carrying out the activities within the confines of the stadium instead of several training ranges across post.
Soldier Stakes was comprised of 12 competitive lanes that included sprints, a weighted ammo can carry, a chain of command knowledge test, a tractor tire lift race and other contests. With challenges that were both physically and mentally demanding, often requiring a unified team effort, the warrior skills showcase was intended to foster competitiveness, boost esprit de corps and instill a fight-as-a-team mentality.
Command Sgt. Maj. Albert E. Richardson Jr., Dragon Brigade CSM, spoke favorably of the ingenuity his team demonstrated while pulling the event together. “It was a good turnout (with the right level of precautions implemented) due to the COVID environment we’re experiencing,” he said.
Only a handful of advanced individual training Soldiers – mostly graduates awaiting orders for their first units of assignment – represented the companies competing. They were joined by company commanders, first sergeants and drill sergeants. Small numbers of AIT Soldiers cheered from the grandstands.
Victor Company, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion, captured the Soldier Stakes crown – an accolade that earned them a winning streamer on their unit guidon and the associated bragging rights that come with it. The team was led by Company Commander Capt. Courtney Anderson and 1st Sgt. Jeron Thompson.
Anderson summed up the experience as “fulfilling,” sharing how it was indicative of leaders “walking the talk” of Army readiness. “It was great,” she said. “It allowed us to come together as a team. A lot of times, these Soldiers are away from us all day for their technical MOS training. The fact we got the opportunity to be with them for these fun events was really motivating.”
Thompson noted how they were able to support and uplift the junior members of the Vikings squad. “It goes back to teamwork,” he said. “Whenever we found teammates struggling, we motivated them and built them back up. Throughout the competition, we showed them what it means to be fired up!”
“Mighty” Mike Company, 266th QM Bn., finished second behind the Vikings while the Golf Co., 244th QM Bn. Gladiators took third place.
Col. Jason P. Affolder, Dragon Brigade commander, officiated his last Soldier Stakes event as he is due to hand off his position before transitioning to a new assignment next month. He said the competition was yet another reminder of what’s great about America’s oldest and most-storied fighting force.
“What impressed me today was the spirit of every Soldier – regardless of whether they were competing or cheering on their battle buddies,” he said. “That teamwork is what makes America’s Army unstoppable.”