MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA -- Forty Marines competed in a base Warrior Team Competition Oct. 3 and 4. The 10 four-man teams raced against time and each other to finish a variety of obstacles and tests over a distance of nine miles.
Gunnery Sgt. James F. Cully, battalion gunnery sergeant and Warrior Team Competition coordinator, said this was the third such event in as many years.
"A lot of Marines here on the base don't get the opportunity to participate in any field events," said Cully. "This is an opportunity for them to form a team and have a competition and perform some of the tasks a lot of Marines joined the Corps for."
Due to the number of teams competing, five teams competed on each day of the event, to ensure teams did not have to wait at the various stations. At the start of the race Marines first tackled an obstacle course that tested their upper body strength, endurance and balance. They hurdled over logs and walls, walked across suspended beams and climbed a rope.
Once finished, each warrior donned his belt and shoulder harness, two canteens, two magazine pouches, and an M16-A2 service rifle. Only three team members had to wear packs one of which held a sandbag weighing approximately 25 pounds. Each Marine also brought a gas mask, which they later had to wear for about two miles in the Georgia heat.
The team leader was given a map of the base with various checkpoints and stations where the teams could stop. Each team had to locate 29 red ammo cans that represented a checkpoint. Hanging from the ammo can was a list of team numbers coinciding with a letter that had to be written down and turned in at the end of the competition. Along with the checkpoints, teams also stopped at five stations. Each station provided the teams with a written test, obstacle or challenge that needed to be completed.
At the first station each team member completed a written test comprised of a series of questions pertaining to land navigation. The second station tested Marines' ability to fire an M-9 pistol at stationary targets. The third station tested Marines' physical and mental abilities. They had to complete as many pull-ups as possible, disassemble and reassemble an M-9 Pistol and a M-240G Machine Gun, and answer written questions about various weapons.
At the fourth station Marines got soaked at the base pool while completing a simulated river crossing. The teams had to waterproof the gear inside their packs and swim across the width of the pool three times with all their equipment. This part of the competition proved to be difficult for some Marines, said Cully.
"A lot of the Marines don't like the water and it's one of those events that forces them to face their fears," said Cully. "Hopefully, this taught some Marines who couldn't swim the techniques of surviving in the water for a long period of time."
When Marines hiked to the fifth and final station they encountered a sign warning them of biological and chemical gases. They reacted to the sign by donning their gasmasks.
"It's a good refresher because a lot of Marines here haven't had a gasmask on since boot camp or MCT [Marine Combat Training]," said Cully referring to why he added a chemical threat simulation into the course. "It's a refresher to let them kind of remember and understand what living and fighting in an NBC [nuclear, biological, or chemical] environment feels like."
Cully designed the course so it would be challenging, but he didn't want to make it too tough that Marines would not finish the event.
"I wanted to test the mind and body at the same time," said Cully. "I wanted to test Marines on basic skills and progress to physical activities. Once the Marines started getting tired I had them perform another task to kind of show them how being physically drained will affect their performance. Some of the Marines can take these tests with no problems, but being on the go for an hour or so makes a big difference."
To ensure the course was up to his standards, Cully had a "test team" comprised of senior Marines and himself try-out the course. After the test-run a few minor adjustments were made to the course to ensure Marines were not setup for failure.
"If I'm going set-up a course like this, I've got to know what the Marines are going to go through, so that is the reason I ran it," said Cully.
The unexpected winner of the Warrior Team competition was the 40-plus-group comprised of old-salty Marines; Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Waltz, base sergeant major, Master Gunnery Sgt. Isaac Rodriguez, operations chief for Logistics Operations Office here, Master Sgt. Joel D. Schultz, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Fleet Support Division's technical assistance team here, and Master Sgt. John L. Richard, Installations and Logistics coordinator here. Although toward the end of the course the team looked fatigued, they still kept a pace good enough to make them victorious.
An overall score determined the winning team. The score was formulated by combining the team's time with points they received by taking the written tests and completing the various tasks.
Some Marines were somewhat surprised when the 40+ group took the competition, but during the race competitors kept their eyes on the underdogs -- the all female team. The "Ladies Only" team was put together by Sgt. Samantha Graves, computer repair technician here, with a mission in mind, to show the male Marines that females are just as strong and entitled to be called "warriors."
Sgt. Jolanta Krempin, Fleet Support Division supply clerk here, was one of the Marines on the all female team. She said that Graves talked her into competing, but she also wanted to take part in the event because it looked challenging and fun.
No matter what the individual reasons for competing were, each team crossed the finish line with their heads held high.
"I've been really impressed with what I've seen," said Cully. I've seen the teamwork on the obstacle course to the teamwork in the pool. Everybody who has entered the course has completed it. No team has had anybody drop-out, which has shown some heart and guts."