Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BRC day two

"Day two?" you ask. Team 22 may be out of the competition, but Ranger Kenneth is on site the next morning at 8:00 to cheer on and coach his comrades. Ken and I woke up to an empty house Saturday morning to learn that he'd headed out to the field. We put together a quick breakfast and packed the cooler for the day, then headed to base.

Ken had learned from the Ft. Benning newspaper that an airborne memorial had just been commemorated, and he wanted to stop to see it and take pictures on our way to Todd Field, site of Saturday's events. Ken was 82nd Airborne, part of NATO forces in Italy, and retired from Ft. Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne. His grandfather had been a glider pilot in WWI, and Kenneth is an Airborne Ranger, so this is a significant place for Ken. The day was picture perfect.

While we had all been sleeping during the night the remaining competitors had been enduring night orienteering. Just like the daytime, they found their way through the woods with a map and a compass wearing their ruck sacks. Only it was at night. As it happened, the tornado spree that wrecked havoc on the southeast over the weekend made a visit to Ft. Benning during night orienteering, which had to be cut short. By morning the wind continued to be brisk, but the skies were incredibly clear and the temperatures perfect.

The Day Stakes, as they are called, focus on skills unrelated to marching (an intended break from the close to 40 miles undertaken to this point). The most interesting challenge was specifically combat-related: the rescue of a wounded soldier from a downed helicopter. The scene was staged in a hot zone, and teams entered under fire to find a soldier with a partially blown away leg inside the helicopter. Smoke bombs simulated that the helicopter itself was on fire. The teams were to assess injury, load the body onto a litter, and en route to helicopter evacuation encounter barbed wire and a wall, under which and over which they had to navigate themselves and their victim.
These events included sound effects, and just so you know: in real life the grenades are louder and less explosive than they appear on TV and in the movies!

When the teams had completed the Day Stakes they prepared for a 25-mile road march. At night. With rucks. The road march is often the breaking point for many, who are so exhausted and physically depleted that they are unable to reach the end. Every year the challenges that make up the competition are changed in some regard, and the road march is no exception. Part of the mental engagement is to be prepared for anything, including the length of the march, deviations from the path to address a situation, or interruptions for something as seemingly inane as to recite the Ranger Creed.

Day three shows no mercy. A one-mile obstacle course that includes 26 obstacles situated in hill and valley terrain tests strength and stamina. This is followed by a helicopter drop into a pond, a swim to shore (with rucks, though they're not on the body), a ladder climb and zip line run to drop back into the water, another climb and "log" cross, after which there is a rope cross and another drop into the water. All of these events are timed, adding another element of competence into the competition. The final challenge is a three-mile run to the finish line, this time with assault packs instead of rucks. (first three photos taken by John D. Helms, the last one is mine)
The arrow in the photo below is pointing to the "pole" cross. The little yellow blob is a stair-step. Remember, this exercise is undertaken after 48+ hours of competition with very little rest. 
Click to enlarge for a better view.
Thus ends the Best Ranger Competition 2011.

The timing was fortunate for us as a family. Ashley & Co. flew in from Texas late Friday night, joining us for Saturday's and Sunday's events. It was great to see them and our grandsons before they headed up to Augusta to look for housing. Travis completes his residency in June and will be assigned to Ft. Gordon beginning in July. Just in time for baby number three! Pictures of the family tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing our adventure!

1 comment:

The Bug said...

All right - I'm exhausted now :)

But it was a gorgeous day, that's for sure!


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