JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- With sweat dripping from their tired, dirty faces, a group of "Utmost" Soldiers from the 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) boldly charged obstacles during the battalion's inaugural rite of passage event "Iron Dragon Fury," on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis North, Wash., July 31.

"This event shows Soldiers that they are capable of doing more than they think they can," said 1st. Sgt. Marcus Foster, first sergeant, Bravo Company, 110th Chem. Bn.

Thirteen 110th Chem. Bn. Soldiers and two cadets entered the groundbreaking Leader and Soldier Certification and, upon completion, earned honorary belts buckles signifying their status within the battalion.

"The infantry has the (Expert Infantry Badge) and cavalry scouts have their Spur Ride, so this is something for the chemical Soldier to say, 'yeah I was in 110th Chemical Battalion and I earned the belt buckle,'" said Foster who was a participant in the event.

Lt. Col. Daryl Hood, battalion commander, 110th Chem. Bn., initiated the certification program to encourage Soldiers to exceed standards, challenge themselves and work as a team.

"Nobody wants a minimally prepared Soldier, so with this we can stress them to achieve greater," said Command Sgt. Maj. Victor B. Whitehorn, command sergeant major of the 110th Chem. Bn.

In order to be qualified to participate, Soldiers must first exceed the minimum standards in basic skills like physical training and weapon's qualification.

"This is an opportunity for us to look inward," said Whitehorn to his Soldiers. "You have to have the right mentality and want to be a part of something bigger than yourself."

The event started off with a test of strength and endurance that included a weighted litter drag, heel-touches on a pull-up bar, and a one-mile run completed in the Army Combat Uniform.

"Going into it, I didn't know how hard it was going to be," said 1st Lt. Marc A. Duplon, team leader, Alpha Company, 110th Chem. Bn. "There were times when I wanted to quit, but I couldn't because I want to finish everything that I start."

Their physical strain had only begun, as they started plotting coordinates, got into Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) Level 4 gear, and ruck-marched to various points.

"It really challenged them to be more fit," said Whitehorn. "Because of the rigorous (Physical Readiness Training) that we've been doing in this organization, they saw that they were better prepared to handle the physical stressors."

Each location provided testing in weapon assembly, vehicle maintenance and radio operation.

"The events were a combination of Army warrior tasks that reinforced basic Soldier skills on top of (Chemical Response Team) skills that we use for our unique mission set," said Forster.

(Finally), Soldiers faced obstacles on the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC). Some of the activities included minefield crossing, evaluating a casualty, and crossing a dangerous area with limited tools and maneuverability.

"They had a very short amount of time to think through the problem and come up with an adaptive solution," said Whitehorn. "They could not finish as an individual this had to be a team event."

Dirty, tired and drenched in sweat, they began their march to the battalion's home where they were greeted by a thunderous applause. They were then awarded their certificate, battalion coin and honorary belt buckle.

"I feel great. I'm hurting, I'm tired, I'm sore, but I'm going straight to Wal-Mart right after this to get the belt to put my buckle on," said Foster. "Going through something like this and enduring the pain and discomfort boosts morale and love for the organization, which makes everything a whole lot better."