FORT BRAGG, N.C. " Rivalries got hot last week as the mercury climbed and the heat index pushed category five by 10 a.m. most days, at the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Janney and Gavin competitions, which ran July 19-22.
The Panther Brigade resurrected the competitions, not held since 2004, to showcase and acknowledge outstanding Paratroopers in the brigade.
“This is part of our heritage. It builds esprit-de-corps, links us to our past and gives us the chance to recognize excellence in soldiering tasks,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William Forro, the 3rd Brigade senior enlisted non-commissioned officer.
The Janney and Gavin competitions take their names from the famous former 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division commander, and patriarch of the 3rd Brigade Panthers, Lt. Gen. James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin, and 2nd Lt. Richard M. Janney, a platoon leader with the 505th, who was killed in action in World War Two.
Not much is known about 2nd Lt. Janney but as the brigade operations officer Maj. Brandon Teague pointed out to the officers preparing to begin the Janney competition, “he served honorably, and he died a hero.”
The Janney event was an individual competition and consisted of 64 junior officers and platoon leaders, as well as seven cadets, here for their summer Cadet Troop Leadership Training (CTLT).
Janney competitors began their first day at 6 a.m. with a variation on the Ranger Physical Fitness Test, consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and a 5-mile run.
With the “giant voice” public address system making back-to-back announcements of increases in the heat category by 10 a.m., the officers and cadets muscled through a rigging exercise and the Air-Assault Obstacle Course, finally finishing around 11 p.m. after completing the day and night land navigation exercise.
Less than six hours later day two began, still warm from the day before, with an 8-mile road march followed by a battery of soldier skills tests.
“Stay motivated, think about the heritage, and give it your all,” said Teague, reminding competitors, “make no mistake, this event is a competition and we’re looking for the best.”
Motivation remained high throughout the competition as competitors cheered for one another and applauded outstanding efforts.
Gavin, which proceeded the Janney competition, was different in that it was a squad level event for the enlisted Paratroopers.
“The competition is a grueling series of tasks that showcases the soldiering skills, and the mental and physical toughness of our Paratroopers,” said Forro.
The Gavin competitors were tested in areas of physical fitness, rigging procedures, the ability to accurately fire their weapons under stress, as well as day and night land navigation " on day one.
As the heat loomed, day two began with a 12-mile foot march, a leaders reaction course requiring the squad members to think and act as a unit to overcome abstract obstacles, written exams and squad specific tasks.
Squads maintained high energy levels throughout the competition despite the blazing temperatures, said Staff Sgt. Joshua Pettit, a squad leader for Troop A, 5th Squadron, 73rd Airborne Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
“Our guys are trained to sustain, trained good, and in it to win it,” he said.
Pettit and his squad did just that, earning Army Commendation Awards for placing first among the anti-tank sections.
Cadet Joe McKenna, who represented Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, earned an Army Achievement Medal for standing out above his peers in the Janney competition.
Awards were also presented to the top male, 1st Lt. Andrew Potter, a platoon leader with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and top female, 2nd Lt. Jill Owings the maintenance control officer for Company G, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, in the Janney competition.
A total of 39 awards were earned in the Gavin competition as individual squads distinguished themselves.