More than 200 paratroopers from across the 82nd Airborne Division competed against each other to identify the best individual section during the “Best of the Best” Field Artillery competition Nov. 13 through 16.
The four-day event hosted by the 18th Fires Brigade, helped artillerymen develop their war fighting skills and esprit de corps across the All American Division.
“I feel like it’s a good way to get the units together to compare and contrast their skills and tactics,” said Spc. Nathanel Freeman, a cannon crewmember with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and native of Newport News, Va. “It feels good to know that you excelled as the division’s best howitzer section.”
The events included a 50-question test covering paratroopers’ military knowledge, day and night land navigation, an Army Physical Fitness Test, convoy operations, employment of the howitzer system, and an artillery live fire exercise.
On the last day of the competition, each team conducted a 20-kilometer ruck march.
In addition, the competition highlighted the best field artillery section for each weapon system and field artillery specialty. Some of the events included the fire direction center, rocket launcher section, rocket launcher fire direction center, the best survey section and the best radar section in the 82nd Abn. Div.
“Pushing yourself to the limit is the key to excelling in this competition,” said Freeman. “Getting yourself in the right frame of mind, with the long hours and hard work will definitely set you up for success.”
The battalions conducted internal best of the best competitions to find their best section. The winners then competed for the honor of being the division’s best.
“Teamwork plays a major role in the competition,” said Sgt. Victor Angulo, a cannon crewmember with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th AFAR, 2nd BCT and a Yuma, Ariz. native. ‘If we don’t work as a team, we’re not going to win.
“Training for the competition was hard!” said Angulo. “We worked long hours ensuring everything was right. We made it fun, but we did what we had to do in order to be the best of the best.”
This year’s competition was the first time women competed in more than five years.
“It felt like a normal day in the Army being that we work around males every day,” said Sgt. Regan Rascoe, a field artillery meteorological crewmember with D-26th, 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, and a native of Fayetteville. “We went above and beyond and did our best and it feels really good.”
Rascoe’s team emerged as the winners of the Meteorological/Survey section.
“It felt really good winning,” said Rascoe. “Knowing that the males usually have the upper hand when it comes to the physical aspects of the competition, it feels great to know that I was able to defeat them in an event.”
The competition concluded with the traditional ceremony at Pike Field where it has been held for the last 30 years.