FORT LIBERTY, NC - Collegiate athletes from across the country participated in ‘Battle at Liberty’, a wrestling competition held on Fort Liberty, N.C., Nov. 1, 2023. The event brought together local community, high school and college wrestlers and Soldiers alike.
An aircraft hangar on Pope Field served as a unique backdrop to an extraordinary performance by competitors. Campbell University Fighting Camels took home the win for the season opener 25-9 against the Black Knights, the Army West Point wrestling team. North Carolina State swept Presbyterian College men's wrestling squad 48-0.
Among those in attendance was Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, XVIII Airborne Corps commanding general.
"This is an incredibly important event, first and foremost, to ensure we have a relationship with the community,” said Donahue. “Without our community, we can't do what we do every day.”
On the same night Fort Liberty hosted a match between Presbyterian College and North Carolina State. North Carolina State Wolfpack swept Presbyterian College Blue Hose squad 48-0.
Another role this event served was to bolster Army recruitment in the area of athletics, college and high school. Athletes make great soldiers, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ramon Ramos, Raleigh Recruiting Battalion commander.
"The event is about branding, shaping, and creating leads into potential applicants,” said Ramos. “There's probably a high schooler, college athlete, or even a young 10-year-old here that might be inspired to walk into a recruiting station one day."
With only 50% of youth knowing little to nothing about the service, recruitment faces its most challenging labor market since the inception of the all-volunteer force. The Battle at Liberty succeeds at not only fostering a good relationship with the local community, but bringing in potential recruits from all across the great state of North Carolina.