FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii –
In a display of determination and engineering prowess, Capt. Joshua Moskowitz and Capt. David Park of the 411th Engineer Battalion, represented the 9th Mission Support Command, as the sole Army Reserve Soldiers in this year’s Best Sapper Competition this past April.
“We took extraordinary pride being the only Army Reserve Soldiers in this year’s competition,” explained Park. “We held our own against our active-duty peers from such storied units as the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division and the 20th Engineer Brigade.”
While active-duty competitors had the advantage of preparing fulltime for the competition, Park and Moskowitz juggled the responsibilities of their civilian jobs while preparing mentally and physically for the challenges of the Best Sapper Competition in their spare time.
“Our training prior to the competition consisted of strength-based training with some short, low-intensity cardio in the morning followed by a longer distance run or ruck in the afternoon. In any down time I would study the sapper handbook, knots, demo calculations, or anything else that might seem relevant,” said Moskowitz.
Throughout the intense competition, Moskowitz and Park demonstrated remarkable skill, agility, and mental acuity as they tackled a series of physically and mentally demanding tasks.
“We faced a lot of unique challenges such as swimming across a small lake to get on a boat to tie a bowline knot with a rope that was at least two inches in diameter. The competition also tested a lot of engineer specific tasks as well, this included setting up cratering charges and conducting a 2-man wire obstacle breach,” said Park.
Moskowitz and Park’s performance in the competition was not only a reflection of their individual dedication to their craft, it also exemplified the strength of the 411th’s support.
“It was an amazing experience. I’m glad that I had Capt. Park as a partner. None of this would have been possible without our commander motivating and pushing us to compete. We also owe much of our success to Sgt. 1st Class Garrett Buckner, the 411th Operations non-commissioned officer, who spent countless hours planning training, conducting research, and providing the resources for us to train and be successful,” said Moskowitz.
The 411th team placed 39th of 50 in the competition. For Moskowitz and Park, they see these results as room for growth.
“Armed with the knowledge from this year’s competition, we are striving for a top ten finish in the future,” added Moskowitz.
The Best Sapper Competition highlights the unique capabilities of Army engineers, underscoring their vital role in military operations. The 9th MSC Soldiers who participated gained invaluable experience and refined their skills, making them assets who can in-turn train the formation of the 411th Engineer Battalion. Such growth in capabilities enhances the adaptability of 9th MSC units as needed in times of competition, crisis or conflict.
As the Army looks toward future competitions, it is clear that the legacy of combat engineering excellence will be carried forward not only by the active-duty Army, but by dedicated Citizen-Soldiers like Capt. Joshua Moskowitz and Capt. David Park, who embody the highest ideals of the 411th Engineer Battalion, the 9th Mission Support Command and the United States Army Reserve.