By Sgt. Mark MirandaOctober 18, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. --
Grip tight, ankles crossed and body suspended on a rope 30 feet above the ground, Spc. Christopher Martin, a Soldier with 295th Quartermaster Company looked at the only way down. He could hear nine of his teammates shouting words of encouragement as he let gravity do a lot of the work for the first half of this particular obstacle.
Without a safety net below and with muscle fatigue setting in, Martin clambered the last few yards, teeth clenched and dripping sweat before he could safely drop to the ground. Still reeling from the experience, he followed his team to conquer another obstacle on the confidence course.
This was the second day of a week-long "Ultimate Sustainer" competition for about 100 Soldiers of the 593rd Sustainment Brigade, Oct. 3-6.
In all, 10 squads were in the competition for each company in the brigade; detachments combined to form full teams.
The day before was the Army Physical Fitness Test and weapons range portions of the competition. Each participant had 40 rounds to qualify without allowance for weapon zeroeing.
Pfc. Benjamin Padilla, who competed in I Corps' 2011 Soldier of the Year competition, was part of the team fielded by the 497th Transportation Company.
"The confidence course is definitely one of the tougher parts to this, but it's also one of the more fun events," Padilla said.
Squads negotiated the course one team at a time, receiving points for every obstacle completed by at least eight of the ten team members. Course completion time was the determining factor for tie-breaking.
"A lot of times we had to choose the best course of action given the risk factors and given what we know of each others' strengths or weaknesses. The team had to come together on a decision as quickly as possible," said Spc. Jimmi Core, a motor transport operator with the 21st Cargo Transfer Company.
Day two of the competition also included a team land navigation course. Day three focused on warrior task training at Sequalitchew Lake.
"They'll be put into some stressful situations -- react to contact, react to a suspected improvised explosive device, calling in a nine-line MEDEVAC among others," said Master Sgt. Marc Siegfried, 593rd Sustainment Bde.'s Operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
Teams were also evaluated on factors including having the proper gear and hasty vehicle recovery operations using a tow bar.
The last day of the competition was a 12-mile ruck march that started and finished at Seay Field, outside of the 593rd brigade headquarters.
"The march definitely got to a lot of people; I'm glad we came together as a team," said Spc. Russell Horton, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and member of the winning team, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Sustainment Bde.
"It's tough, and I knew it would be because I competed last year. We trained for weeks leading up to this as a team, going over things like land nav and anything else we needed to review," Horton said.
In the final standings, 497th Transportation Co. came in third place with 542nd Maintenance Co. taking second.
"It was great NCOs putting it together with junior enlisted Soldiers taking charge to make this a great event. Each of them learned something, and learned something about each other -- their fellow professionals," said Col. Scott Lofreddo, Commander of the 593rd Sustainment Bde.