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NEWS | Sept. 18, 2023

Better together: Squad Eight's unyielding grit shines bright in 2023 Army Reserve Best Squad Competition

By Officer Candidate Brittney Joy 220th Public Affairs Detachment

From day one of the 2023 Army Reserve Best Squad Competition, Squad Eight, representing the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, was locked in and ready to face off against eleven other squads for honor the Best Squad. Leading the squad for the week was Sgt. Dominic Matts, who admitted to some initial nerves about leading such a well-prepared group but found himself earning respect in unexpected ways.

The competition kicked off with an intense physical assessment followed by a challenging combat swim. During the swim, teamwork was essential as they constructed a raft to transport supplies across a lake one way and a casualty on the return swim.

Spc. Trenton Tuberosa commented, "Despite this being our first time working together as a team, trust wasn't hard to come by. We've been competing against each other for months, and everyone knows what the others are capable of because they are all exceptional."

On the second day, the competitors spent their time on various ranges. They vied for the pistol Excellence in Competition badge, qualified at the M4 range, and practiced grenade launches at the M17 range. Additionally, they worked together on the M240 and M249 machine guns range, showcasing the importance of teamwork in the Army.

Spc. Eduardo Lemos noted, "We all come from different backgrounds, but we were able to work together seamlessly. Our team's communication and cohesion set us apart." Tuberosa added, "We listened to each other and embraced different ideas. Once a decision was made, we all rallied behind it and worked together."

Day three presented challenges in land navigation and obstacle courses. Spc. Jesus Perez emphasized, "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and leveraged that to our advantage. When one team member struggled during an event, the rest of the team provided support."

On the fourth day, the competitors embarked on a mission to gather intelligence. They navigated tunnels and woods to complete their objectives. Squad Eight's success hinged on teamwork and communication, with Sgt. Timothy Coggins stating, "Sgt. Matts would provide the mission, I would set the pace, and everyone else executed flawlessly."

Day five was a mentally demanding one, with three missions to complete. The squad remained in sync during a helicopter jump into water, showcasing the trust they had built over months of training and competition. Regardless of the results, they were ready to face the next challenge.

To conclude the physically demanding week, competitors participated in a grueling 12-mile ruck march early in the morning. Ruck marches are notoriously strenuous, especially after a week of intense activities. Coggins remarked, "There's a difference between motivation and drive. Motivation wanes, but drive keeps you going. These guys have unwavering drive," which propelled them across the finish line.

Teamwork, resilience, and drive define these competitors and soldiers. Matts emphasized, "It means something to be here, representing the top 60 out of over 200,000 Reserve Soldiers. We are proud to be here representing the 377th Theater Sustainment Command and the Army Reserve." This competition showcases the best of the Army Reserve, highlighting its combat effectiveness. Tuberosa and Perez both agree that the Best Squad Competition series demonstrates the lethality of the United States military. Perez expressed that the competition has revealed the depth of their training, making these tasks second nature. Regardless of their military occupational specialty, they are all soldiers first, and this competition underscores the importance of soldiering skills. He concluded, "We are trained and ready to fight, setting the United States Army apart from other armies around the world."

Together, Matts, Tuberosa, Lemos, Coggins, and Perez demonstrated their skills, knowledge, grit, and resilience, inspiring each other to push their limits, accomplish every mission, and ultimately... be all that they can be.