MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Six teams from the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group battled for top spot in the annual Praetorian Challenge aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 11.
Each team from the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, 2nd Radio Battalion, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, 8th Communication Battalion and II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, was composed of 10 members.
The Praetorian Challenge is named after the Praetorian Gaurds, fierce bodyguards used to protect Roman emperors.
Teams competed in rock climbing, tire flips, ammo can lifts and fireman carries, 7-ton truck pull, a brutal bout of pugil sticks and tug -of-war.
Col. James Stopa, commanding officer of II MHG, said the event has been held annually for many years, but this year was the first time it was titled the Praetorian Challenge to bring more fierce competition and inspire unit cohesion.
“I want the Marines to leave here with a sense that they all know the unit a little bit better,” said Stopa. “Make some friendships and encourage sportsmanship through the competition. It’s a fight to victory, but, at the end, they take off their helmets and shake each other hand.”
Stopa added, it’s a great way to channel their aggression and then get back to working hard.
Staff Sgt. Micah Nelson, admin chief with II MHG, said he was happy he could get together with the unit, work as a team and come out as victors over the five other teams.
“Winning the shield shows us what we can really do,” said Nelson. “The rest of our unit is currently deployed, but we still came out here with the Marines we had left and fought hard and came out on top.”