By Staff Sgt. William Sallette, 75th Fires Brigade Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 11, 2011
Being the best in your job or your duty comes with a certain amount of pride, but besides just thinking that your crew is the best, how would you know' Some Soldiers at Fort Sill had the opportunity to show that their crews stood out as the best among their peers the week of January 3rd.
Last week the 2nd Battalion, 18th field artillery regiment reinstated an all but forgotten tradition of the Best By competition. Best By test is an event in which the individual crews within the battalion compete with each other to find out who is the best of the best. This three day event would test the crew's abilities in six different events, to find the best Ammunition Team, Battery Operations Center, and Multiple Launch Rocket System crew. "We want to create a sense of pride, responsibility, and camaraderie throughout the sections and give them a the opportunity to set themselves apart from their peers to be the best.", said Lt. Col. Samuel Saine, 2-18 FAR commander.
Phase one, the testing phase, started out with some motivating words from the commander. Then the crews were moved to the education center for a 50 question written test, testing the Soldiers Military Occupational specialty knowledge. This was followed with a round robin event of basic Warrior Tasks, and a Physical Fitness test in the afternoon.
During phase two, the crews got the opportunity to show what all their training was for. Each crew conducted uploading and downloading of ammunition, fire mission processing, reloading the launcher, and fire direction operations. Time restraints and safety were strictly scrutinized during the day's events, considering that the scores that were tallied this day counted as 50 percent of the crews overall score. Each event of the competition was worth 10 percent of the scoring except for phase two.
"It was great to see all of our training come into action and work exactly like it should", said Staff Sgt. Michael Mcgill, 2-18 FAR, MLRS Launcher chief.
Phase three, "The Gut Check Phase", started early at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area where the crews conducted a 20 kilometer ruck march through Fort Sill's training area back to the battalion area. This portion of the competition was not just a physical test, but also a mental test. Each team was required to keep crew integrity throughout the ruck march, making motivation and morale key elements during the event.
The competition was concluded Friday with a reception Bar-B-Que and an awards ceremony where the results were tallied and released. The overall winners for the event were, Launcher crew: Staff Sgt. Aron Maggard, Sgt. Samuel Rasmussen, and Spc. Andrew Stebonic, Ammunition crew: Pfc. Michael Patterson and Pfc. Tucker Favreau, and the Battery Operations Center crew: Staff Sgt. Earl Emerson, Sgt. Matthew Johnson, Spc. Ryan Valentin, Spc. David Rouse, Pfc. Brian Howard, Pfc. Michael Burkett, Pvt. Mackenzie Lewis, and Pvt. Drake Farley. Each first place crew received an Army Achievement Medal and a miniature Guide-on to hang from their vehicle antenna.
Not every crew can win the event and carry the streamer, but the commander is planning to keep this event on his training calendar regularly, with training and a competitive spirit at the forefront. This training and many other events the battalion has scheduled is preparing them for their future training exercise in Wyoming later this year.