GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — “Soldiers never fight alone,” and this winning squad is no different. U.S. Army Europe and Africa proclaimed Soldiers representing V Corps as the Best Squad in a ceremony at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Aug. 12th. Held under the scorching sun, the 96-hour competition tested squad members' physical strength, mental resilience and tactical and technical proficiencies in order to advance and compete in the Department of the Army-level Best Squad Competition later this Fall.
Pfc. Derek Peterson, a member of V Corps' winning squad, was awarded both "Top Soldier" and "Iron Soldier."
“Winning this competition helped bring us together as a team and helped us further work out some of our flaws," Peterson said. "I’m really looking forward to the next competition.”
Although only one squad was victorious, by no means was the competition easy. In fact, it came down to the very last day in true, nail-biting fashion. In addition to the squad assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment, representing V Corps, the competing squads represented various U.S. Army Europe and Africa major subordinate commands and direct-supporting organizations: 7th Army Training Command; U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa; 56th Artillery Command; 21st Theater Sustainment Command; 2nd Theater Signal Brigade; and 66th Military Intelligence Brigade.
“I had no doubt in us,” said Spc. Preston Hatsell, a member of the V Corps winning squad. “I think we performed really well out there, and it was very exciting to hear we won.”
From dawn to dusk, judges graded participants in multiple events such as the Army Combat Fitness Test; multiple weapon qualification ranges including the AT4 anti-tank weapon, M4 Carbine Rifle, M240 Machine Gun and M17 pistol; weapon and equipment assembly and operations lanes; patrol lanes, including call for fire and room clearing; foot marches; a mystery physical fitness event; and various tactical combat casualty care tasks.
Sgt. Tyler Singletary, a member of V Corps' winning squad, said “Once we got into the competition, we all came together, put our heads down, and grinded day by day, task by task.”
The runner-up squad, representing 7th Army Training Command, lay claim to the "Top NCO," an award given to noncommissioned officer Sgt. Alexis Ortiz-Rivera. Spc. Anthony Falson, assigned to 21st Theater Sustainment Command, received the "Top Shot" award.
The U.S. Army Best Squad Competition will be in September, leaving the V Corps squad — now the U.S. Army Europe and Africa squad — approximately one month to prepare.
“I'm looking forward to it; it'll be more difficult and the competition may be tougher, but we'll just have to train harder and get after it when we get there,” said Spc. Garrett Headden, a member of the winning squad.
The competition, centered around the U.S. Army's This Is My Squad initiative, showcased outstanding cohesion, camaraderie and leadership among Soldiers of various backgrounds and ranks.
“I can't really put it into words right now of how proud I am of the hard work they put into this competition,” said Staff Sgt. Gregory Hudson, squad leader of the U.S. Army Europe and Africa squad. “Seeing what we've accomplished so far … we're ready to go compete at the [Department of the Army] level.”
To view more content from the competition, visit the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Best Squad Competition webpage.