Story and photo by Marti Yoshida
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 15, 2018) — The 12th annual Best Sapper Competition kicked off Sunday with opening ceremonies held at Training Area 160, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
The first order was to introduce the new name of the competition as the Lieutenant General Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition.
“General Flowers is a great engineer, a great Sapper, and truly is the reason all who are Sapper qualified wear the Sapper Tab,” Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School Commandant, said. “You will see him throughout the competition.”
Whittle encouraged the Sapper teams to talk with Flowers, who was the 50th Chief of Engineers when the Sapper Tab was authorized for wear in June 2004.
The Best Sapper teams were introduced during the ceremony.
“We’ve got 40 teams here from all over the world,” Whittle said. “You’ve all been training very hard. You’re all incredibly fit and ready to go, and that’s good because this competition will be grueling. You joined it because you wanted to test your limits. You joined to see if as a buddy team you could motivate each other to do the impossible.”
Now as you look around the room, you can see this competition will be tough, Whittle added.
The 97th Commandant of the Engineer school offered words of advice to the teams as they embark on tough conditions and challenges, like the return of frigid winds and temperatures not getting above 30 degrees.
“Never quit. Take another step. Overcome another objective. Motivate each other and cross the finish line,” Whittle said. “Your families and friends are counting on you. Your chain of command is tracking you. Never quit.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Trevor Walker, U.S. Army Engineer School, regimental command sergeant major, welcomed the teams to Fort Leonard Wood.
“Thank you for coming, stepping up and doing something more than what you have to do,” Walker said.
This year, the competition, which is run by the Sapper Training Company, 169th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, USAES, had its first Marine team sign up.
“We were extended an invitation from the school,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Shultz, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, who was the 2017 honor graduate of Sapper Leader Course, Class 4. “They offered us the opportunity to come here and do this event.”
“Our expectation is to finish so that in the future we can have more Marines come here,” Shultz, competing as Team 40, added. “We’re grateful to be here. This is a great opportunity and we look forward to it.”
Other teams echoed the goals to finish and win.
The awards ceremony for the competition will be held at 7:30 a.m. April 19 on Fort Leonard Wood’s Gammon Field.
Follow the competition on social media at #BestSapper.
Team photos are available online at https://www.dvidshub.net/news/273134/2018-best-sapper-competition-opens-fort-leonard-wood.
Team 1: 1st Lt. Brendan S McKinley, Staff Sgt. Cody Clinton, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 2: 1st Lt. Tyler Glasz, 1st Lt. Eric Churchill, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 3: Sgt. 1st Class Charles Felker, 1st Lt. Josh McCormick, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 4: Capt. Helmuth Siemer, 2nd Lt. John Sinclair, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 326TH Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 5: 1st Lt. Francis Lee, Staff Sgt. Brandon Hill, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 6: 1st Lt. Justin Newman, Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Williams, Fort Hood, Texas, 20th Engineer Battalion
Team 7: Capt. Jonathan Duran, Capt. Russell Bettencourt, Fort Hood, Texas, 36th Engineer Brigade
Team 8: Capt. Christopher Wagner, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Grieco, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, 31st Engineer Battalion
Team 9: Staff Sgt. Maxwell Vanalstyne, 1st Lt. Lori Frye, Grafenwoehr, Germany, Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment
Team 10: Capt. John Baer, 1st Lt. Sheldon Tausch, Fort Cambell, Kentucky, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 11: 1st Lt. Cameron Day, Cpl. Francis Meighan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 27th Engineer Battalion
Team 12: 1st Lt. Louis Tobergte, 1st Lt. Andrew Warner, Vicenza, Italy, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 13: Sgt. 1st Class Robert Clark, Capt. Rudy Chelednik, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 14: 1st Lt. Tyler Sykes, 1st Lt. Isaac Lewis, Fort Drum, New York, 41st Engineer Battalion
Team 15: Staff Sgt. Michael Belmore, Sgt. Nathan Wright, Fort Stewart, Georgia, 9th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 16: Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Brandt, 1st Lt. Nathan Rector, Fort Drum, New York, 7th Engineer Battalion
Team 17: 2nd Lt. Terence Hughes, Staff Sgt. Trent Pontes, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 18: 1st Lt. Alexandra Koch, 1st Lt. John Brewer, Fort Drum, New York 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 19: 2nd Lt. Robert Isenhour, 1st Lt. Casey Woudenberg, Fort Knox, Kentucky, 19th Engineer Battalion
Team 20: 1st Lt. Michael Quigg, 1st Lt. Ryan Roumell, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, 11th Engineer Battalion
Team 21: 1st Lt. Paul O’Brien, 2nd Lt. Andrew Soulis, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1st Engineer Battalion
Team 22: 1st Lt. Eric Krueger, 1st Lt. Eric Perez, Fort Carson, Colorado, 588th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 23: 1st Lt. Thomas Hoyt, Sgt. Gary Coggins, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1st Engineer Battalion
Team 24: 1st Sgt. Jose Velasquez, 1st Sgt. Thomas Struna, Fort Hood, Texas, 91st Engineer Battalion
Team 25: 1st Lt. Ryan Reagin, 4th EN BN, Fort Carson, Colorado; Capt. Michael Ecklund, 1st EN BN, Fort Riley, Kansas
Team 26: 1st Lt. Jacob Wilson, 1st Lt. Bryan Adams, Fort Drum, New York, 41st Engineer Battalion
Team 27: Capt. Gates Benson, 2nd Lt. Thomas Straniere, Fort Leonard Wood, 5th Engineer Battalion
Team 28: 1st Lt. Jonas Amaral, Sgt. Carlos Castro, Fort Bragg, 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion
Team 30: 1st Lt. Clifford Lockwood, Sgt. Lucas Tucker, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 27th Engineer Battalion
Team 31: Staff. Sgt. Caleb Michaud, 2nd Lt. Thomas Rupp, Vicenza, Italy, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 32: Master Sgt. Caleb Smith, 2nd Lt. Joshua Thomlinson-Aaron, Grafenwoehr, Germany, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Regimental Engineer Squadron
Team 33: Capt. Erwin Marciniak, Capt. Mitchell Acosta, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, 554th Engineer Battalion
Team 34: Sgt. Caleb Perry, Sgt. James Shelton, Vicenza, Italy, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 35: Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Tullis, Staff Sgt. Joshua Newbury, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 36: 1st Lt. Daniel Butensky, Sgt. Eliseo Guzman Angulo, Fort Carson, Colorado, 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 37: 2nd Lt. Charles Lowth, Sgt. Brandon Strain, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 38: 1st Lt. Anthony McConnell, Sgt. Jacob Hansbrough, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion
Team 39: 1st Lt. Patrick Richardson, Staff Sgt. Ronald Thomas, Fort Carson, Colorado, 4th Engineer Battalion
Team 40: Gunnery Sgt. William Schultz, Capt. Matthew Paluta, Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
Team 41: 1st Lt. Matthew Stanley, Sgt. Connor Horsley, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion