The 12th annual Best Sapper Competition is one of the events taking place during Engineer Regimental Week at Fort Leonard Wood April 16-20. This year’s Best Sapper Competition will be held April 16-18, with an awards ceremony scheduled at 7:30 a.m. April 19 on Gammon Field. Photo credit: 2017 Best Sapper Competition by Michael Curtis, Fort Leonard Wood Visual Information Center.

By Capt. Austin McGahan

The U.S. Army Engineer School will host the 2018 Engineer Regimental Week from April 16-20 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

This year’s theme is “Preparing Today’s Engineers for Tomorrow.”

“This is a chance for Engineers to celebrate our heritage and plan for the future as well,” Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, said. “Like every branch in the Army, we have to continue to modernize. We have to continue to train our leaders. Engineer Regimental Week is a chance for us to do that.”

“All the while, we’ll be celebrating the achievements of our Sappers during the Best Sapper Competition,” Whittle, the Engineer Regiment’s 97th commandant, said.

Several events are scheduled throughout the week to include the Best Sapper Competition, the Engineer Spouse’s Day, Army Engineer Association Industry Exhibits, a Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony, the Senior Engineer Leader Council, the Engineer Regimental Run, and the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony.

Best Sapper Competition
A total of up to 50, two-man teams competing in the 12th annual Best Sapper Competition will begin arriving and in-processing April 14, with the competition kicking off April 16-18.
“50 teams, 50 miles, 50 hours,” is the motto for this year’s three-day competition where competitors will be challenged with events covering the three turrets of the combat engineer:  mobility, counter-mobility, and survivability. Tasks include a 15- to 20-mile ruck march, the X-mile run, a non-standard physical fitness test, Sapper Stakes and land navigation. The Best Sapper Competition Awards Ceremony is open to the public and takes place at 7:30 a.m. April 19 on Gammon Field. The public may also attend the opening ceremony for the competition at noon April 15 at Training Area 160.

Engineer Spouse’s Day
The “Engineer Spouses: Clear the Way!” event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 17. During this event, spouses will get to see what it’s like to be an engineer, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Trevor Walker, USAES regimental command sergeant major.
“A lot of the events will be challenging, and some events are fun,” Walker said, adding the event encourages “team building within the spouse network.”
Spouses will get to participate in activities such as paintball, manual breaching, mine detection, rappelling, and more. Military spouses of all services are welcome to attend. Cost is $25 and includes lunch and a T-shirt. Spouses may RSVP to Capt. Maxwell, 35th Engineer Battalion, by calling 573.596.7701 or by registering online at:

Army Engineer Association Industry Exhibition
The Army Engineer Association will be sponsoring industry exhibits from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 17-18 at Nutter Field House. The event showcases the latest engineering technology, and more than 60 agencies are slated to participate in this year’s indoor and outdoor displays.

Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony
The lives and service of fallen Engineers will be memorialized with the Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 19 at Sapper Memorial Grove. The tribute will include words from leaders across the regiment, a rendering of honors and a wreath-laying ceremony in Sapper Memorial Grove. This event is open to the public.

Senior Engineer Leader Council
Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, is scheduled to address the regiment at 9 a.m. April 19 in the Main Post Chapel. Whittle will kick off the Senior Engineer Leader Council, or SELC, which meets April 19-20. The two-day SELC summit is a key component of the week where the regiment looks at ways to ready and modernize the force by sharing information, documenting lessons learned, and comparing best practices. Additionally, SELC serves as an opportunity for the leaders of the Engineer Regiment to build consensus on critical issues.

Engineer Regimental Run
The morning of April 20 starts with the Engineer Regimental Run from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. Units will form up on Gammon Field.
“More than 6,000 people will be out there for the run, including the Marines, Navy, Air Force, Noncommissioned Officers Academy, those associated with the Engineers, and spouses,” Walker said.

Keynote speakers
Guest speaker Col. Lars Zetterstrom, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District commander, is scheduled to provide a National Response Framework speech highlighting lessons learned during Hurricane Harvey from 1 to 2 p.m. April 20 at the Main Post Chapel.
54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, will provide a keynote address from 2 to 3 p.m. April 20 at the Main Post Chapel. As the Chief of Engineers, Semonite advises the Army on engineering matters and serves as the Army’s topographer and the proponent for real estate and other related engineering programs. As the USACE Commanding General, he is responsible for more than 32,000 civilian employees and 700 military personnel who provide project management, construction support and engineering expertise in more than 110 countries around the world.

Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony
The week concludes with the Engineer Regimental Ball and Awards Ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. April 20 in Nutter Field House. Doors open at 6 p.m. During the ball, the selected winners for the De Fleury, Itschner, Sturgis Medal, Van Autreve, Outstanding Platoon Leader, Outstanding Warrant Officer, Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer, and Honorary Regimental Command Team, will be recognized. Tickets for the ball are sold out.

For more information about Engineer Regimental Week, visit

Editor’s note: McGahan is with the U.S. Army Engineer School Deputy Chief of Staff Plans division.


Engineer Regimental Week events

April 15

Opening Ceremonies for the 12th annual Best Sapper Competition, noon April 15, at Training Area 160. Open to the Public.

April 16

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition Dedication Ceremony, 1 p.m. April 16, in the Engineer Regimental Room. Open to the public.

April 17

Engineer Spouses Day, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 17. Open to all military spouses.

April 17-18

Army Engineer Association Industry Display, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 17-18, Nutter Field House

April 19

2018 Best Sapper Competition awards ceremony, 7:30 a.m. April 19, Gammon Field. Open to the public.

Regimental Address, 9 a.m. April 19, Main Post Chapel

Fallen Sapper Tribute Ceremony, 6 p.m. April 19, Sapper Memorial Grove. Open to the public.

April 20

Engineer Regimental Run, 5:30 a.m. April 20, Gammon Field

SELC Guest Speakers at the Main Post Chapel:

Col. Lars Zetterstrom, lessons learned during Hurricane Harvey, 1 to 2 p.m. April 20, Main Post Chapel

54th Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, 2 to 3 p.m. April 20, Main Post Chapel.

Engineer Regimental Ball & Awards Ceremony, 6 p.m. April 20, Nutter Field House