FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — Thirty-five Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs from across Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada met in southeast Arizona to participate in the “Too Tough to Die” Raider Meet and the Jackson Roser Memorial Shoot at Tombstone High School Feb. 25, in the historic city of Tombstone known most notably as being the location for the legendary western film Tombstone.
“There’s a lot of schools here from pretty far away, it’s our fifth year, and this is always a great event. It’s fantastic,” said Rebecca Robinson, Tombstone High School career technical education director. “It’s the heritage and the history of Tombstone that brings the teams in, but [retired] Master Sgt. Dan Kilpatrick and [retired] [Chief Warrant Officer 4] Thomas Gross put on a great event every year and that word travels well.”
Graders for the event were volunteers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE); and 2nd Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment from Fort Huachuca.
Three of the graders were previously cadets of the Tombstone Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Program, one grader was the parent of a former cadet, and another grader is a retired warrant officer who has helped during the event for the past five years. Medical support was provided by the Tombstone Fire Department.
“When you look around, you see nothing but senior enlisted, to include the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Maj. Tammy Everette, as well as several captains serving as either volunteers or graders for the events,” said Capt. Andrew Marshall, HHC USAICoE commander. “I think this says a lot about the stock we put into the future warfighters of our country as well as the great capacity of bandwidth our servicemembers hold as they not only perform their daily operation, but they also take time out of their personal lives to invest in the generations to follow in our footsteps.”
Challenge events included a modified physical fitness test, knot tying and puzzle, tire flip relay, TCPPT (throw, carry, push, pull, throw), one rope bridge, fire truck pull, obstacle course, litter carry, horizontal rock wall, with the challenge concluding with a grueling 5k cross-country run/walk through sand and steep rolling hills.
Manny Escobar, a sophomore from Deming High School, New Mexico, said he thought the toughest event for his team was the rope bridge.
“The team could’ve done better, but we will be alright,” Escobar said. “We just started preparing in January, and with some events popping up and some practices missed we could’ve done better, but I think we are in a good spot.”
Escobar credits his team’s successes throughout the day to retired Lt. Col. Todd Moultrie, senior instructor for Deming High School’s JROTC program since 2019.
Moultrie served 24 years in the military as an enlisted Soldier and as an officer, and he knows what it takes to win, instill confidence, and build camaraderie.
“I want these kids to be prepared to compete and for competition,” he said. “Not just for this event, but for challenges they may face down the road. I want them to see how their teamwork and the training has paid off.”
Arianna Kamantigue, a senior and the cadet Lieutenant Colonel for the Red Mountain High School JROTC Program, aspires to work in Army or Air Force public affairs after graduation.
“The cadets are all really responsible and really we emphasize accountability when training for events like this,” she said. “We train every single day from 6:30 to 8:00 am before they go into their core curriculum classes.”
Retired Master Sgt. Dan Kilpatrick, Tombstone High School senior instructor, said the event has been a huge success every year and because so many schools participate, he encourages anyone interested in the event to register early.
“It’s a creative and unique event designed to promote teamwork,” he said. “Here at Tombstone High School, home of Yellowjackets, we promote winning with honor and never cheating to win; we will hold ourselves up regardless of if we win or lose, but we will do it with honor year in and year out at every single event.”
Tombstone High School recently qualified for the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl, and the only team to qualify for this national tournament from Arizona. The program is one of seven teams that qualified within its brigade, which is comprised of 315 programs.
“Not bad for a little school in Southern Arizona with a town of a population a little over 1,300,” Kilpatrick said.