A sapper, or combat engineer, performs military engineering duties such as bridge-building, laying/clearing minefields, demolitions, field defenses and general road and airfield construction and repair.
"We actually did a few [Sapper Stakes] years ago but they were not quite as challenging," said Army Lt. Col. Rodney Newton, commander of the 105th. "If you made it here representing your unit, you are probably the cream of the crop."
"The Sapper competition has been around for a long time," said Army Capt. Thomas Grabos, the officer in charge of the Sapper Stakes. "It's sort of like a squad level, best ranger competition and this is the second year that we have made it an invitational where we have gotten guys from outside the battalion to compete. This year we even invited a reserve unit team."
"I really wanted to bring back all of the really cool tasks that they do in Sapper School and kind of take it to a new level, said Grabos. "It gets guys that are interested in going to Sapper School prepared. They take this training and expand on it to prepare for Sapper leader."
Eight teams of five Soldiers began the three-day event with a physical fitness test in the Army Combat Uniform and boots; completing sit-ups, push-ups, and a two-mile run up and down steep inclines. The next two days were filled with advanced land navigation; an obstacle course run and a ruck march featuring three competitive stations as they hauled at least 35 pounds on their backs.
"This is highly motivational, highly demanding training," said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Beard, the assistant adjutant general-sustainment. "Kudos, to you folks for plowing through. I didn't see anybody not trying; I didn't see anybody sitting by the way side. I saw a lot of good motivation and encouragement along the way."
During the competition, the teams were plotting points on maps and tracking through the woods to nine stations; testing their skills and quick response in assessing and completing the tasks of detecting mines, tying knots, rappelling from a tower, advanced map reading, demolition, weapons jumble, wire obstacle and rescue rappel as a team.
"There was a lot of individual stuff but you got here and you won as a team," said Beard. "We execute on an individual level but we succeed as teams."
It was all about the team skills and speed, lacking in either could cost the teams points. In the end, Soldiers with muddy uniforms, camouflaged faces and sore muscles awaited the results.
"I appreciate your commitment to your service," said Beard. "I appreciate your time, effort, and energy these last three days. Congratulations to the winners but congratulations to everybody for a job well done."
Team six, of A Co., 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, were the overall winners of the competition. Each team member earned an Army Achievement Medal, a plaque engraved with the Sapper Creed, and the units name engraved on the Sapper trophy.
"The whole thing was a challenge especially coming from someone who kind of had to remember what [happened during] Sapper School," said Sgt. Todd Gremillion, of A Co., 236th BEB. "Having three days of nonstop training, coming out here and putting it all on the line; it was a challenge the whole way through."