'Best Sapper' serves as crucible for engineer regiment
By J.D. Leipold
April 20, 2012 1 / 12 A Best Sapper competitor makes his way toward shore after helocasting on day one of the challenge that will tax the physical, mental and creative abilities of Soldiers over the course of 50 miles in 50 hours, April 19-21, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 2 / 12 Some Soldiers rest while others continue readying for the 2012 Best Sapper competition that began in the dark morning hours of April 19, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The 50-mile, 50-hour contest sponsored by the Army Engineer School this year pits 38 teams of two Soldiers, one of whom must be Sapper-tabbed, through a crucible that will stress them physically, mentally and creatively. VIEW ORIGINAL 3 / 12 At 4:07 a.m., Brig. Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca, Army Engineer School commandant, gives a final pep talk to the 76 contestants vying for the title of 2012 Best Sapper that launched April 19, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 4 / 12 The first challenge in the 2012 Best Sapper competition is for each team member to crank out a minimum three sets of 10 jumpups, five pullups and five hanging heel-touches within 10 minutes while monitors keep track. VIEW ORIGINAL 5 / 12 As the Army Engineer School's annual Best Sapper competition kicks off at 4:30 a.m., April 19, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., with 38 teams of Soldiers vying for the top spot. First on the list of challenges that will take them 50 miles in 50 hours are jumpups, pullups and hanging heel-touches. VIEW ORIGINAL 6 / 12 After getting their adrenaline flowing by jumpups, pullups and hanging heel-touches, the 38 teams in the 2012 Best Sapper competition are off for a brisk three-mile run with their "ducks" (rubber M-4 carbines) and ballistic vests. VIEW ORIGINAL 7 / 12 As a CH-47Chinook kicks up a powerful prop wash on a fog-covered lake, Best Sapper competitors tethered to their rucksacks leap from the chopper's ramp into 66-degree water for the 20-minute swim to shore. Thirty-eight teams of two are vying for the top spot in the Army Engineer School annual challenge at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 8 / 12 Letting off steam and dripping lake water after the swim in from a helocast, a competitor for 2012 Best Sapper makes his way toward a tent where he can dress in what he hopes are dry clothing. The first Soldier from each team to make it to shore would drop his rucksack at the tent, then return to the lake to help his buddy. VIEW ORIGINAL 9 / 12 Following the helocast, Soldiers in the Best Sapper competition change into dry uniforms, shoulder their rucks filled with wet clothes, grab their rubber M-4 carbines and hit the road. Best Sapper is sponsored annually by the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 10 / 12 Best Sapper competitors scale a 40-foot tower as part of the day one challenges. Thirty-eight teams of two Soldiers are vying for the top spot in the annual contest that challenges the contestants nearly to the limits of their physical, mental and creative abilities. Best Sapper 2012 kicked off April 19, 2012, and is sponsored by the Army Engineer Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 11 / 12 A Best Sapper contestant slices through 10 half-inch-diameter rebar rods in the thermal breaching exercise. The 2012 Best Sapper competition kicked off April 19, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL 12 / 12 Following the Best Sapper helocast, competitors start down another road, but not until they are rewarded with 4-foot long slosh tubes filled with two gallons of water (16 pounds), half the capacity of the tubes. As the Soldiers march, the water sloshes from side-to-side, affecting their balance. This year 38 teams of two are vying for the title which will be awarded April 21, 2012, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. VIEW ORIGINAL
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Army News Service, April 20, 2012) -- The Best Sapper competition, a centerpiece of the Army Engineer School's annual regimental conference, kicked off in the dark, early morning hours April 19, with 38 teams of two participating, the largest field yet to compete.
The active and reserve-component competitors will move through a course of 50 miles in 50 hours with a variety of obstacles in the way designed to exhaust them physically, mentally and creatively.
In the way of earning the title of Best Sapper stand events such as helocasting into a lake with a packed rucksack, rappelling a 40-foot tower and 100-foot cliff, day and night land navigation problems, obstacles that need to be detonated, thermal breaching exercises and pushing through a gas-mask run.
The final gut-check comes the morning of April 21 after the X-miles run, named so because the competitors have no idea of the run's length, it could be 4, 8, 12 miles or a distance in between.