The 82nd Sustainment Brigade hosted the annual Rigger Rodeo at Fort Bragg from Sept. 17 to 21.
The event was a five-day competition where competitors traveled from installations as far as Germany to compete in several areas to test their rigger skills and knowledge. Active duty, Reserve and Special Forces Soldiers participated. A rigger’s primary job is to ensure that parachutes, personnel and aerial delivery systems are properly packed and rigged for airborne operations. The Rigger Rodeo tests riggers in all of those skill areas.
“These riggers came from across the world to compete with each other,” said 1st Sgt. Melloyd Carter of the 11th Quartermaster Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and Miami, native. “Most of these guys haven’t seen each other since Advanced Individual Training; it’s a great opportunity to get back together and show that camaraderie.”
Each team consisted of five riggers, including a team coach and team leader. The competition rules allowed for team leaders to substitute the team coach in place of a graded competitor for up to two events to assist their team achieve victory.
“It means a lot to be selected to be on a team that’s going to compete against other riggers,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Fief, a parachute rigger, instructor at the Fort Lee Quartermaster School and Kankakee, Ill., native. “Being able to come and represent our unit gives us a chance to work together and show what we got.”
Riggers tested their land navigation skills using grid coordinates on a topographical map and a compass to recover a dropped container delivery system bundle. Riggers also participated in parachute and suspension line repair, two of the more technical events during the rodeo. They were also required to locate and patch a hole in a parachute within a time limit.
“You have to have a lot of patience, especially when you’re doing the sewing event,” said Carter. “It’s one of those events that are graded very hard and attention to detail is very important,” he said.
“I use the Rigger Rodeo to see where I stand,” said Spc. Joshua Medina, a parachute rigger with the 824th Quartermaster Co, 362nd Quartermaster Battalion, 207th Regional Support Command, and Boynton Beach, Fla., native. “I see it as a test of my knowledge and leadership. This competition shows that the rigger field is one of the most integral in the Army. The mission can’t happen without supplies; and supplies don’t get downrange without riggers. Riggers are the ones who make it happen.”
“This is a really technical field,” said Fief. “Every time we pack a parachute, a Soldier’s life is involved.”
After the competition, the winners of the rodeo were announced at the final event of the week — the Rigger Ball.
The 623rd Quartermaster Co., 264th Combat Signal Support Battalion from Fort Bragg took first place, receiving an Army Commendation Medal and the rigger rodeo trophy for their efforts. Second place went to the 824th QM Co., also from Fort Bragg, who received an Army Achievement Medal. Third place went to Echo Company 1st Battalion 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Benning, Ga., who received a certificate of achievement for their efforts.
The annual Rigger Rodeo provides a competitive atmosphere for riggers from installations around the world and rewards the hard work of the rigger community and the value they add to the Army.