By 1st Lt. David Hoy
Over a dozen Soldiers from 2nd Engineer Battalion participated in 1st Armored Division’s 2015 Iron Sapper competition. This year’s event was an individual competition, compared to two man teams in years past. 1st Lt. Cody Millhouse from HHC, 2E was the overall winner out of a field of 32 other competitors. Millhouse finished with a final score of 938 out of 1,000 points beating out the second place competitor by over 80 points. For the second year in a row 2E has finished first in the Iron Sapper competition.
Day one of the competition started Feb. 23 with an obstacle course and rappel tower at Fort Bliss. The next day, Sappers conducted a layout and were bused three hours north of Fort Bliss to an austere land-navigation course. Here competitors endured rain, three-to-five inches of snow and sheer rock faces while negotiating rugged terrain during both hours of day and night.Land navigation ran into the third day of the competition. Sappers were tested with building various demolition charges for time along with constructing an improvised Bangalore, water impulse and grape shot charges.
After the demolitions range, the Sappers were bused to a training area where they conducted a round-robin. Events tested included calculating for and building inert timber-cutting and steel-cutting charges, U.S. weapons assembly and disassembly, TALON robot operation, PSS-14 mine detector operation, a written knowledge test, range card sketching, knot tying, and medical evaluation. During one phase of the round robin, competitors took a non-standard APFT which consisted of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups. Sappers donned protective vest and helmet and ran to a range where they fired 20 rounds standing and 20 rounds prone unsupported. The Sappers then ran back for a total of three miles with the run and shooting times counted as a graded event.
At the end of the third day, the Sappers began a 22 mile ruck march. Sappers wore a 50 pound ruck sack and ended at a swimming pool on Fort Bliss early in the morning on the final day of the competition. After the ruck march, Sappers put on a life vest and jumped from a high dive with a dummy rifle, swam to retrieve their rucksack in the water and swam 15 additional meters. After taking equipment out of the pool, competitors swam another 50 meters to finish out the event.
The top six competitors have been offered the chance to compete in the Engineer Regiment’s Best Sapper Competition this April.Competing against more than 32 other Sappers, 2E placed six individuals out of the top ten competitors. 1st Place: 1st Lt. Cody Millhouse, 4th Place: 1st Lt. Austin Kennedy, 5th Place: 1st Lt. Aaron Mathys, 6th Place: Spc. Brian Bautista, 8th Place: 1st Lt. David Hoy, 10th Place: Spc. Julian Sanchez. Also finishing from 2E were the following Sappers;Sgt. Robert Leake, Staff Sgt. Brian Remily, 1st Lt. Matthew Downey, 1st Lt. Scott Rice, Capt. Brendon Hischar, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Candelaria and 2nd Lt. Elena Spielman.