By Cpl. Katherine M. Solano, 2nd Marine Logistics Group
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Good old competition will push people to test themselves on mental, physical and emotional levels. Combine natural competitive instincts with incentives, such as an extended weekend and personal awards, and a super squad competition is born.
The Marines with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group came together for their 2nd annual super squad competition in the rustic, down-and-dirty backwoods of Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 13.
To kick it all off, the Marines had to pick up their weapons from the armory and then hike about six miles to their first station.
“We do it in order to showcase Marines’ basic Marine Corps common skills,” stated Capt. Patrick Bowman, the company commander for Motor Transport Maintenance Co., 2nd Maint. Bn. “We do an outstanding job supporting the Marine Expeditionary Force within our [jobs], but we also have to make sure we live up to the motto, ‘Every Marine a rifleman.’ So this course encompasses 90 percent of basic … skills in a six-hour period.”
The hike landed the squads at a remote range where they fired at colored targets, competing for accuracy and time. The first squad done had the added advantage of stepping off ahead of their competitors to the next station. It was up to their squad leader to point them in the right direction by plotting grid coordinates on a map and determining the most efficient course.
“Watching some of the sergeants actually come out and showcase their skills is always a good thing,” added Bowman, originally of Atlanta.
The competition continued along a route with stops at four more stations.
The next stop, the casualty evacuation drill, was the most action-packed. Simulation smoke and gas attacks hindered the abilities of the Marines to provide security as others located, treated and evacuated casualties.
“We had to throw on our gas mask and it was pretty hectic, but good training,” said Cpl. Jacob Silver, one of the competition team leaders for the general support maintenance squad.
Silver explained how their squad leader led them through the simulated chaos.
“He called on the team leaders to make sure everyone was in the right spot. [He told us to] take it easy and slow things down,” explained Silver, a native of Rochester, N.Y.
The next stations further tested the Marines’ combat skills. The squads raced to assemble multiple weapons systems and then competed in Marine Corps Martial Arts Program drills.
“We wanted to do something to boost morale,” said Bowman. “We wanted to get Marines to use their weapons, do some fighting, and then showcase their skills.”
Sgt. Nicholas Safran, the squad leader for GSM, 2nd Maint. Bn., summed up the day following the combat fitness test, which was the final portion of the competition.
“It was very challenging,” Safran, of Baltimore, concluded. “It was a test of basically being a Marine all around, from weapons to combat lifesaving skills. [It tested] endurance and being able to push through and know what it feels like when you’re really tired, but you really need to accomplish [things].”
All the squads were treated to a cookout after the competition, and the winning squad received an extra day off of work and written commendations.