FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. –
Over 90 enlisted, officer, and cadet competitors representing 20 active Army installations, National Guard and Army Reserve teams participated in the Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, earlier this month.
Only one Army Reserve two-man team competed.
Capt. Manuel Ramirez, former commander, and 1st Lt. Johnathan Trent, platoon leader, with the 428th Engineer Company, Wausau, Wisconsin, competed in more than 40 tasks over a 50 hour period.
Some of the tasks included casualty care, weapons assembly and disassembly, identifying sapper Knots, rappel tower, and the poncho raft swim.
The two man teams navigated from station to station each with a 70 pound Rucksack, load bearing vest and M4 weapon.
“You are assessed on task condition standards between each station and between each station you are moving a mile or two miles,” said Ramirez.
The purpose of the competition is mastering the Sapper skills taught in the Sapper Leader Course and attained through serving in the combat engineer unit, according to Trent.
“There’s definitely a train up involved and having those skills and experiences you practice at your unit and even by yourself shows when you are there (at the competition),” said Trent.
“One of the big takeaways we learned is this is an elite level competition. The best of the best show up,” said Ramirez.
Given the limited time and resources, the team believes they met the challenge.
“We performed just as well as any of the other components,” said Ramirez.
Although the team fell short in the competition this year, they have a positive outlook that with the knowledge they’ve gained they will place in the top 10 next year.