HOMESTEAD, FL – Nine teams totaling 18 of Homestead’s toughest warriors representing three commands from across South Florida’s military community gather to compete in the inaugural Special Operations Command South Warrior Challenge, Feb 18 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.
The challenge, which began at the Homestead Bayfront Park located about 10 miles from the base’s main gate, consisted of a 100-meter swim, followed by a 2,000-meter kayak and concluding with a 1,000-meter, 150-pound litter carry and eight-mile ruck march.
During most of the event, participants had to carry a 50-pound ruck sack. The competition’s finish line was back at the SOCSOUTH’s Headquarters building, and the two-man team with the fastest time would be proclaimed the winner. U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jason Schattel, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of training for SOCSOUTH, organized the event in order to allow the members of the command to enhance their military skills in series of challenging events.
“The purpose of the event was to test members of the command both physically and mentally by conducting a multi-event competition with a focus on military-related events,” said Master Sgt. Schattel. “The idea for the event started with the intent of having a competition of military-focused events wearing a military uniform and using the equipment that we train with such as a rucksack and long haul kayak.”
The challenge proved to be a demanding task for all participants, but the event also brought a level of unity among competitors.
“This was fun and great morale for our unit,” said Army Pfc. Charles Echols, a radio communications specialist for the 112th Signal Detachment. “This was very motivating and events like this help build teamwork among us.”
For Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Hammond, the event was a test of physical endurance and determination. “I hit the wall at the last corner of the ruck march,” he said. “I gave it everything I had and I want to thank my teammate [Master Sgt. Schattel] for helping me finish. Like the saying goes, train as you fight.” The hard work and resolve of Hammond and Schattel paid off as they were announced the winners of the event with a finishing time of 2 hours, 46 minutes.
Although there could only be one winning team, members of SOCSOUTH showed their support for all the competitors as each team crossed the finish line and on this day every team felt like a champion. SOCSOUTH hopes to hold another competition later on this year.