Marines and sailors compete for super squad title
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- As the sun rises, and most people are just starting their day, sweat already drips off the faces of Marines and sailors as they race through different physical challenges to see who will triumph in a super squad competition.
Marines and sailors with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, competed in a super squad competition May 1 at various Marine Corps installations across Okinawa.
The competition is held every few months and consists of two stages. The first stage took place on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and consisted of a two-mile hike on the Habu Trail to the obstacle course. All members of a squad had to finish the course before they executed follow on Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques.
The participants had to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a short amount of time to successfully complete the challenges. The physically demanding competition built unit cohesion and camaraderie between Marines and sailors with the battalion.
“We all met last week and we didn’t know anything about each other,” said Lance Cpl. Daryl A. Reyes, a military policeman with the Provost Marshal’s Office, H&S Bn., MCB Camp Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “There were several people struggling in several events, and other people tried to help them, so it brought us together.”
When all the squads finished stage one, they had a short break to eat and prepare for the next part of the competition. Before the second stage commenced, each squad was called individually to look at and memorize several objects. They would need to recall these objects at the end of stage two for a Kim’s game, commonly referred to as a “keep-in-memory” game.
Stage two was held at Camp Hansen and started with another two-mile hike out to the firing range, which most of the participants thought was the most difficult challenge in the competition, according Staff Sgt. Rafael M. Garcialopez, a squad leader for the competition and an engineer equipment mechanic with the battalion.
“The hardest part of the day was definitely the hikes, specifically the second one,” said Garcialopez. “On Hansen there are a couple more hills, so the second hike was definitely the hardest.”
The hike was the last physically demanding part of the competition. When squad members reached the firing range, they began the intermediate combat marksmanship course. This consisted of firing from distances of 5-25 yards, by pivoting and walking forward while firing at a target. Once a squad finished the course, they completed the competition by recalling the objects from the keep-in-memory game.
After completing all the challenges, squad members reflected on their favorite aspects of the day.
“My favorite part of super squad was being able to give my fire team leaders the opportunity to lead and allowing my Marines to motivate each other,” said Garcialopez. “Anytime I get the chance to build morale and camaraderie in junior Marines, I always take advantage of the opportunity.”
As the results were tallied, second and fourth squads were tied for first place. However, the results of the range ultimately decided the winner, putting fourth squad ahead and earning them the trophy for the competition.
Fourth squad members credited their teamwork as helping them successfully complete the challenges and overcome the other squads to win, according to Reyes.
“The thing that brought us above and beyond was watching another person struggle and finding different ways to help that person,” said Reyes, a member of the winning squad.