2nd Lt. Lauren Looper
65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, hosted the Expert Sapper Competition, here, March 5-8.
Thirty-five teams from the battalion and its sister units competed in a variety of events to build esprit de corps, train on sapper skills and ultimately find the most expert Sappers in the battalion.
A Sapper is an elite combat engineer.
“This is a good assessment to find out where the troops are at,” said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Johnson, 34th Eng. Company, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC. “The Skill Level 1 tasks and physical tasks build character and camaraderie between battle buddies.”
The competition kicked off at 6:30 a.m., March 5, with a packing list layout at the 65th Eng. Bn.’s motor pool. Later that morning, the teams crowded into the battalion classroom to take a three-hour, 100-question, multiple choice test about combat engineering skills.
They then moved to Hamilton Field, here, to take the Expert Sapper Fitness Test, which consisted of five minutes of push-ups, five minutes of sit-ups, five minutes of pull-ups and a three-mile run in body armor with plates.
The push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups had to be done continuously for five minutes. Partners switched out, so there was always one Soldier performing the exercise.
The second day’s activities included eight stations that tested combat engineer skills, such as knot tying, emplacing a wire obstacle and mine detection.
Sgt. 1st Class Chad Pipkin, HHC, 65th Eng. Bn., ran the claymore mine station. He described the competition as “a good experience for these kids. They don’t get to do this stuff anymore, not the real engineer stuff.”
When asked at the minefield clearance station to describe how the competition was going, 2nd Lt. William Whitfield, HHC, 65th Eng. Bn., laughed and said, “I put the material all together and I still wasn’t prepared.”
Whitfield must have been more prepared than he had thought because his team placed second.
The final event of the competition consisted of a nighttime12-mile road march on the hilly roads of East Range, here.
On the last day, March 8, the weary competitors returned to Schofield Barracks where they ate a hearty breakfast.
Following breakfast, winning teams were recognized.
1st Place Team
1st Lt. Andrew Cammack and 2nd Lt. Brett Carter
84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
2nd Place Team
2nd Lt. William Whitfield and 2nd Lt. Spencer Hampton
HHC, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.
Members of both winning teams received an Army Achievement Medal and a four-day pass for their outstanding accomplishments.