In March I got to go to a military competition. Fortunately for me, I was on the camera end of the grueling competition though.
For days, the competitors vied for the titles: Best Warrior (Soldier-level) and Best Warrior (noncommissioned officer-level). They covered every aspect of being a Soldier with a variety of events in a fast-paced schedule. On day one they started before dawn and got busy completing an Army physical fitness test (a timed two-mile run, and two minutes of both sit-ups and pushups), a three-mile run with our senior enlisted leader, hands on demonstrations of combat first aid techniques, and both day and night land navigation. The second day had less events but certainly was not easy as they were tested and timed in a 12-mile road march that began in the dark. As they hauled a 35-pound ruck sack on their back over hills and through sand, I was thankful I only had to carry my camera. The fastest Soldier came in with 2 hours and 33 minutes, which is really quite remarkable. Not all the competitors had it that easy though. A couple of Soldiers crossed the finish line with blood-drenched boots because they just would not quit. With only a short break to rest, the Soldiers then went straight into testing their weapons skills by zeroing and qualifying with their M4 rifles in both day and night ranges.
The days continued with a grueling pace of activities, some with little preparation time. The Soldiers did everything from writing an essay to preparing a speech to throwing a hatchet. Yet, they always seemed to be having fun. It was really interesting to watch the days unfold and see who would excel at what task. Some Soldiers were good at one event and maybe not as much at another. That is what the competition tested though-who was the best overall. So, they could have been second, third or even fourth in one event, but if they did well in all the events, they still might have a shot at the title.
Overall, it was really fun to watch, and made me proud of being an Army Reserve Soldier. As reservists, we are held to the same standard as active duty Soldiers. Yet, we don’t always have all the time in uniform they do. And sometimes, we have less tools to train with as well. If you want to be in physical shape and prepared for things like a road march or a two-mile run, you have to train on your own-at home in between your regular job and family responsibilities. It not just “one weekend a month” like some people think. It requires work and sacrifice, and if you have any level of responsibility, it is essentially like having a second career. Some of the top competitors were just everyday people: fireman, mechanic, UPS driver and student.
Anyway, preparing for and covering this event was my main event for March. Therefore, it is my feature for Cardinal Guzman’s The Changing Seasons Challenge.
If you are unfamiliar with the challenge, make sure you click on the badge below to check it out. There are a couple of different versions you can choose from too. And, Cardinal just really has a great blog that covers everything from stunning photography to recipes.
If you are interested in reading more about the competition, you can click here for an article that one my Soldiers wrote about it.
Note: Some of these photos have been altered and adjusted for the purposes of this blog. All the actual official Army photos posted in various locations, have not been altered outside of brightness, contrast and cropping. These versions are just for my personal use and commentary.