By Staff Sgt. JaJuan Broadnax, 49th Public Affairs Detachment (Airborne)April 16, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 16, 2012) -- A team from the United States Army Special Operations Command won the 29th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition Sunday.
Team 36, which consisted of Master Sgt. Kevin Foutz and Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Payne, took the top spot among the 34 Ranger teams who completed the day-three events on Harmony Church and Main Post.
The Richard A. Leandri Award went to the 101st Airborne Division's Team 20, which included Capt. Benjamin Schenck and 1st Lt. Andrew Rinehart. Named after Richard A. Leandri, who was inducted into to the Ranger Hall of Fame for his dedicated support of the U.S. Army Rangers, the award is presented to the team with the best time during the night orienteering event. Leandri was also a founder of the Chairborne Rangers, a group that supported the creation of a "Ranger Olympics," which became the modern-day Best Ranger Competition.
The Capt. Russell B. Rippetoe Trophy, for the best combined time in two foot marches, went to Team 22, Capt. Erik Edstrom and Staff Sgt. Sean McApline of the 3rd Infantry Regiment. Team 22 finished Friday's 15.5-mile foot march from Camp Rogers to Camp Darby in 3 hours and 15 minutes and Friday night's foot march, of 14.8 miles, in 2 hours and 56 minutes.
The final day of the 2012 Best Ranger Competition continued following two days of mentally and physically challenging events. Competitors pushed to the final leg of the competition, beginning with the Helocast and water confidence test at Victory Pond. Then the teams fast roped onto York Field where they completed the Leader Challenge before finishing up the competition with a three-mile buddy run.
"It's been a lot more difficult than I expected," said Team 9's Capt. Kevin Cremin, from the 10th Mountain Division. "We trained really hard (for the competition), but the first day was really bad. After that first day, things seemed to balance out."
During the Helocast, teams made Poncho rafts to waterproof their ruck sacks and weapons, loaded a UH60 Helicopter, exited into Victory Pond, swam to shore with equipment in tow and crossed the finish line in the shortest time possible.
"That was my first shower in about two days," said Team 8's Sgt. Coby Cochran from the 10th Mountain Division.
"It felt really great," Cochran said.
Still wet from the Helocast, competitors continued on to the water confidence test where they were required to complete the log walk/rope drop obstacle before moving to execute the suspension-traverse event. Known locally as the "Slide for Life," competitors held on to a pulley while sliding from a 75-foot tower, dropping into the pond, then swimming to shore as family members and spectators cheered them on.
Shortly after completing the water events at Victory Pond, the two-man teams were flown to York Field where they executed a fast rope insertion/extraction system. Once there, the competitors had 15 minutes to move all the items within the sling load to the finish line.
Pushing to the end of the competition, the two-man buddy teams raced to the finish line of the three-mile Buddy Run to Freedom Hall. Team 49, Capt. Robert Killian and 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar, from the Army National Guard, crossed the final finish line first followed by Team 42, Staff Sgt. Raymon Santiago and Staff Sgt. Chad Acton, from the Ranger Training Brigade. Team 20, with Capt. Benjamin Schenck and 1st Lt. Andrew Rinehart, from the 101st Airborne Division, finished the buddy run in third place.
"A lot of people came to see and support us, and we owe them gratitude," said Cremin.