Marines

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Sgt. Robert Hunt, a combat instructor with Company I, Marine Combat Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, leads his team in squad push-ups during the initial stage of the MCT Battalion Combat Instructor Competition aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., April 21. Squad push-ups were just one of many exercises that tested the physical and mental strength of 25 MCT instructors who competed in the two-day event.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

MCT Combat Instructors compete in hopes to gain bragging rights

21 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Jo Jones

Rain couldn’t dampen the competitive spirits of 25 Marine Combat Training instructors who competed in the first ever MCT Battalion Combat Instructor Competition aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., April 21 and 22.

“This is a competition to determine which company of instructors performs Marine Corps common skills at the highest level,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Richard, weapons chief of the instructor group, MCT Bn., School of Infantry-East, and creator of the event.  “They are competing for bragging rights within the spirit of competition.”

Companies F, G, H, I and K chose their top five combat instructors to participate in the two-day event.  The competition started with a series of strength exercises and grenade throws.  The Marines then completed a one-mile stretcher carry before running through the obstacle course.  After a short break, they put on their modular tactical vests and performed a timed three mile hike, which some Marines described more as a conditioning run, to Camp Devil Dog with two rubber rifles, two 30-pound ammunition cans, their Kevlar helmets and assault packs.  Competitors then participated in daytime and nighttime land navigation, with a written test as their only break between events.

The second day proved to be just as arduous as the first.  Only a few hours after completing their night land navigation course, the Marines were timed and evaluated on weapons disassembly.  Afterward, they shot the M-240B medium machine gun, M-249 squad automatic weapon and the M-16A4 rifle, on an unknown distance course scored by the knockdown targets’ computers.  Moments after returning from the range, martial arts instructor trainers tested the 25 combat instructors’ abilities to perform basic Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques.

Sgt. Brandon Rys, a combat instructor with Company G, MCT Bn., SOI-East, said while the competition was physically and mentally challenging, giving up was never an option.

“Endurance isn’t going to the gym and powerlifting 700 pounds – it is carrying weight over time and distance,” said Rys.  “Doing event after event definitely takes its toll, but it forces you to push past your breaking point.  It’s rewarding.”

Richard said opportunities to compete like this are rare for the combat instructors due to operational tempo and the large number of MCT students in training.  However, he hopes this will become an annual event, which makes people like Rys happy.

“I enjoy the competition and camaraderie,” said Rys.  “It’s nice to spend time with colleagues and have a change of pace every once in awhile.  I hope to see this (competition) go every year.”

Company F took top honors by placing first overall in the competition.  As a result, Sgt. Alvah Childs III, Sgt. Daniel Oglesby, Staff Sgt. Ismael Santa III, Sgt. Daniel Toner and Sgt. Jason Watrous each received a certificate of commendation from Lt. Col. Chad Sbragia, battalion commander of MCT Bn., SOI-East.

Sbragia said he was proud of all the Marines that competed, but wasn’t surprised they did so well during the competition.

“You are fantastic combat instructors,” said Sbragia.  “I would stack you up against any Marines.  You are the cream of the crop.”

Childs said while it felt good to win the competition, learning experiences and working together with a tight-knit band-of-brothers are what made the biggest impressions on him.