By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetApril 20, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Best Ranger Competition teams traveled more than 60 miles by foot leading up to Sunday's Darby Queen Obstacle Course, said Ranger Training Brigade's event officer in charge, Capt. Joshua Ollek, more mileage at this point than in previous years.
With exhaustion weighing heavy on the teams, families - most wearing shirts bearing team names - turned out to offer words of encouragement.
"Team Co-Bro" families flew in from California and followed alongside Cogle and Broussard throughout most of the competition, sharing stories and touching on the sibling rivalry between Broussard and older brother, Michael. Michael won the Best Ranger Competition in 2008.
Their father, Burt, said watching them serve in the military has changed his idea of what patriotism means.
"I always thought being patriotic meant going to football games and saluting the flag, singing God Bless America, but after this, after Mike getting involved and getting his brother involved (in the military), it's been a whole life-changing experience for me," said Burt, who now rides with the Warriors' Watch Riders motorcycle group to support military families.
Terri Merriken, mother of Team 19's Staff Sgt. Kanaan Merriken, flew from Albuquerque, N.M., to watch her son compete.
"He was hit by a roadside bomb in 2003, spent two years on 100 percent disability, then retrained and returned to duty" and now he's competing against some of the most physically fit Soldiers in the Army, said Terri, who traveled to nearly every event to catch sight of her son.
"I'm really proud of him ... I'm glad to see he still has that competitive spirit," she said.
Merriken and his partner, Staff Sgt. Matthew Zosel, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, finished 22nd overall.