By Spc. Noshoba Davis, 1021st Engineer Company
CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT – A squad of Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard’s 1021st Engineer Company, based in Covington, La., placed third in the grueling Warrior Stakes competition in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 25-27.
Warrior Stakes is a three-day competition to evaluate squads on physical fitness, warrior tasks and battle drills. A total of 36 squads competed, including squads from another Louisiana unit currently deployed, the 844th Engineer Company, based in Pineville, La.
“I am extremely proud of the effort that Sergeant Turner and his squad put forth in placing third out of 36 squads … I am proud of all of our Soldiers who competed in Warrior Stakes, each of them gave 100% and wanted to win,” said Capt. Noel S. Bellas, company commander of the 1021st Eng. Co. “It was a great opportunity to put into action the skills and tasks that we have trained on during our pre-mobilization train-up and the last few months in country.”
On day one of the competition, Soldiers were evaluated on physical fitness including one minute each of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and dips. The competitors also had to complete a four-mile run as a squad in 36 minutes or less.
On days two and three, Soldiers were required to tactically navigate from one grid location to the next while carrying a rucksack weighing a minimum of 35 lbs. Soldiers were evaluated on land navigation, tactical combat casualty care, improvised explosive device (IED) route clearance, maintenance on multiple weapons systems, how to operate communication systems, react to indirect fire and perform first aid for a nerve agent injury while wearing protective gear.
“I used it as a personal challenge to test myself as a Soldier and as a leader,” said Spc. Ryan Landers.
The Louisiana Guard team that placed third, included: Sgt. Victor Turner of Alexandria, La.; Sgt. Chad Bryson of Springfield, La.; Sgt. John Rayburn of Covington, La.; Spc. Tyler Varnado of Baton Rouge, La.; Spc. Billy Sparks of Archibald, La.; Spc. Donald Lambert and Spc. Ron Louis of Denham Springs, La.; and Spc. Christopher Foster of Covington, La.
“I’m satisfied with knowing we placed third out of 36 squads,” said Turner. “Of course everyone wants first place, but being one of the top three is just as good. My guys are just as happy.”
While deployed, the company is conducting vertical construction operations, including assignments involving construction projects, working with concrete and performing plumbing and electrical system work.