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Vanguard soldiers determined to demolish odds at Best Sapper Competition

POSTED: April 18, 2012 11:33 a.m.

FORT STEWART, Ga. – Three soldiers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division head to an All-Army competition this week to prove their engineering expertise during the 2012 Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The three-day competition, April 19-21, will test their physical and mental toughness, but 1st Lt. Matthew Fletcher, Sgt. Joshua Morse and Sgt. Steven Wagner—all assigned to Company A, 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th IBCT—said they are ready for the challenge.

“I think we’ll do pretty well,” said Morse. “To be able to attend and represent the 4th Brigade and 3rd ID (up against) multiple teams from installations across the U.S., it’s definitely an honor to go compete. We’ve been training every day and studying every night for this.”

Overall the 4-3 BSTB team will cover 50 miles of grueling obstacles—like an unknown distanced foot march and run, rappelling, land navigation, engineer reconnaissance and a series explosives and demolition tasks. They’ll also take a non-standard physical fitness test, and a number of other physically and technically demanding events.

“It’s a pretty hard course,” said Fletcher. “People who usually win the competition usually practice for a good six to 12 months out. It’s very challenging.”

Fletcher said his team has only been readying for the competition since March, but the time crunch they’ve had to prepare has not soured their spirits on winning. Fletcher is also helping his team beef up for the competition. He said his skills learned during Sapper School in 2009 will help prepare his non-commissioned officers who have never done anything of this stature.

“A lot of people have given us a lot of knowledge on what to expect,” said Morse. “We’ve done a lot of research on it and a lot of pinpoint training. We’ve been doing a lot of physical training and upping the standards for ourselves. We may not be the best, but we’re definitely looking pretty good”

The 4-3 BSTB soldiers said that whatever the outcome, the opportunity to compete is a win in itself.

“I don’t think I’d have the word to describe if we do win,” said Wagner. “It’s the best of the best, to be able to just attend the competition is pretty honoring.”

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