8th TSC hosts first local Expert Sapper Competition

| October 8, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
2nd Lt. Brigida Sanchez
65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

Staff Sgt. Joshua Williams, combat engineer, Co. A, 3rd Bde. STB, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, carefully searches for a mine on one of the 14 testing lanes of the Expert Sapper Competition, held at the Engineer Training Area, Sept. 27.SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Observing tradition and the esprit de corps of combat engineers, the 65th Engineer Battalion recently hosted its first Expert Sapper Competition, Sept. 28-29. 

The competition, here, was modeled after the Best Sapper Competition held at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was open at all military units in Hawaii. 

“There is a tremendous amount of tradition within the 65th Eng. Bn. and the engineer branch as a whole,” said 2nd Lt. Brandon Burner, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “The role of a sapper involves an immense amount of skill, so combat engineers take pride in their abilities to perform their specialized tasks to the standard.

“The Expert Sapper Competition capitalized on teams’ sapper skill sets, mental and physical toughness, and pride in their role as combat engineers,” he said.

The contest took place during two days, where sleep-deprived Soldiers challenged each other in a physical fitness test, knots, mine clearing, military operations in urban training operations, a night land-navigation course, a 12-mile ruck march and a 25-meter swim, with a poncho raft that contained two ruck sacks and the team’s weapons. 

Expert Sapper participants prepare their ponchos for the poncho-raft competition, at the Richardson Pool, Sept. 28. This event was the last of the 2010 Expert Sapper Competition. “We trained physically, with rucks and runs in the morning,” said Staff Sgt. Nigel Kelly, Company A, 3rd Bde. Special Troops Bn., 3rd Bde. Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. “During the day, we just gathered everybody up for classes and one of us would teach the class. It wasn’t that much time, but it worked.”

Staff Sgt. Joshua Williams, Co. A, 3rd Bde. STB, 3rd BCT, said that a big part of his team’s success was the support that the team received from 3rd Bde. STB, 3rd BCT leadership, which led to personal motivation. 

“Our leadership was there the whole way,” Williams said. “(During our) 12-mile (ruck march), when we were really, really hurting, (we came) around the corner to find our commander and first sergeant … cheering us on. Kelley and I motivated each other to push on, telling each other we got a shot to win this thing, and we can’t give up now.”

Williams and Kelly did push on, and they won the competition. They received a trophy and Army Achievement Medals for embodying the ability, stability and flexibility of a combat engineer. 

“The competition united units by a common thread and encouraged a higher standard of profession-based abilities in the spirit of competition,” Burner said.

Category: News

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