FORT RILEY, Kan. - The 79th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) conducted its annual ‘Team of the Year’ competition in preparation for the 71st Ordnance Group ‘Team of the Year’ competition in March.
The 79th EOD Bn. ‘Team of the Year’ competition evaluates EOD Soldiers' readiness and mastery of tactical and technical skills. The teams competed in physically and mentally demanding environments to showcase their abilities to respond quickly in various situations, enabling them to think critically about whatever the mission may be.
“The competition is designed to test the varied aspects of EOD, “ said Cpt. Matthew Johnson, an EOD officer assigned to the 79th EOD Bn. “It includes tasks an EOD technician needs to be proficient in.”
This event was organized by the 79th EOD Battalion and included explosive ordnance disposal specialists Staff Sgt. Jacob T. Knust and Spc. Dean D. Lopez, assigned to the 797th Ordnance Company, Staff Sgt. John W. Coffield and Sgt. Andrew J. Webb assigned to the 630th Ordnance Company, Staff Sgt. John A Pape and Staff Sgt. Cody L. Himes assigned to the 752nd Ordnance Company, and Staff Sgt. Traice R. Prentice and Spc. Levi A. Newhouse assigned to the 774th Ordnance Company.
Following an Army Combat Fitness Test, weapons qualification, and an eight-mile ruck march to test physical readiness, the competition continued to EOD testing lanes. The lanes evaluated how quickly teams could efficiently perform an array of MOS-specific tasks.
“Events like these are significant because they give companies a chance to compete against each other, “ Pape said. “They help to see where you stand compared to other companies as well as pointing out any training gaps within your own.”
Pape led his team through each event as they worked through a series of problem sets designed to test their skills in realistic scenarios.
“While the competition doesn’t reflect reality, it reduces the time you will typically have, causing you to move faster to accomplish the task, “ Pape said. “I think my team member and I got new experiences in seeing how we employ the different skill sets in an operational environment.”
After being an infantryman for approximately six years, Himes wanted to pursue something different in his career and submitted a packet for EOD school.
“Coming straight from EOD school, there were a few times when my real-world knowledge was limited and I was relying on my team leader, ” said Himes.
The competition continued with a cornucopia event, involving six time-constrained scenarios and a long-distance range, where teams shot a Barrett M107 rifle. With 50-caliber ammunition and a rapid-fire range extending to 1,000 meters, teams were able to demonstrate their weapons capabilities.
“As a team member, I think the ability to work as efficiently as possible with your team leader and knowing your equipment well is important to getting ready for this type of event, ” Himes said. “I think the most important part is being a good team.”
Pape and Himes placed first in the competition, and both received an Army Commendation Medal for their notable actions and consistent, cohesive teamwork.
“I think they performed pretty well, ” Johnson said. “This is a team-oriented event, so they won because of their cohesiveness and ability to work together.”
Pape and Himes will go on to compete in the 71st Ordnance Group ‘Team of the Year’ competition in March.