Paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team harkened back to the esprit de corps and tradition experienced by Devil Brigade troopers of more than 10 years ago,
while competing in the Towle/Megellas Competition, Aug. 26 to 29.
The contest are named for former 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment paratroopers John R. Towle, a Medal of Honor recipient, and James Megellas, one of the most decorated officers in the history of the All American Division. The competition tested the mettle and resilience of lieutenants and of a squad of nine paratroopers from each battalion. Through the completion of ten key events the lieutenants, competing for the individual Megellas Award, and squads, competing for the team Towle Award, worked to gain points to be tallied up and measured against fellow opponents.
“Both the Towle Competition and the Megellas Competitions were crucial to be reborn in the brigade to establish an environment of healthy competition based on warrior tasks that drives the esprit de corps of the organization up to positive levels,” said Maj. Adam Barlow, operations officer for 1st BCT. “To compete against your peers is something that makes your unit sharper and more lethal, and it helps us to honor our heritage.”
The four-day competition began with an Army Physical Fitness Test. Shortly after completing the two-mile run, paratroopers suited up in their duty uniforms to tackle the obstacle course in attempts to achieve the fastest time with the fewest course deficiencies.
Day two of the Towle/Megellas contest found the paratroopers zeroing their M4 rifles as well as properly rigging their rucksacks for airborne operations. Competitors then devoted their afternoon and evening to completing day and night land navigation.
The third and final full day of the competition featured weapons qualifications, which comprised of a stress shoot, an event that required paratroopers to fire accurately from various platforms after performing vigorous exercise, and the completion of a leadership reaction course. The leadership reaction course challenged the paratroopers’ problem-solving skills and abilities to work as a team under stress. Lastly, the paratroopers completed a written test.
On the final morning of the contest, the paratroopers gutted through a 12-mile road march.
After the dust settled and points were tallied, 1st Lt. Zachary N. Fox, executive officer for Company A, 2
Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was named the winner of the Megellas competition. The “Nomads,” the squad competing from Company A, 307th Brigade Support Battalion, crushed the other squads in five of the ten events to come out on top and win the team Towle Award.
Fox said that while competing was important because it allowed him to test what he was made of, participating in the Towle/Megellas Competition was mainly about building unit cohesion. He said he enjoyed meeting and working beside peers from throughout the Devil Brigade.
Sgt. Jordan E. Tackett, a team leader with the winning Towle squad, said competing built camaraderie amongst his squad members and was a valuable experience for the paratroopers on many levels.
First, Tackett said, his squad, comprised of truck drivers, beat out infantry squads in tasks infantrymen perform for a living. Second, the competition gave the troopers a fresh perspective of the Army, especially so for one trooper in particular.
“I think the competition did more for this guy than anybody,” Tackett said. “I knew that this guy was a trooper, that he was squared away, but something about when we hit the competition ... it’s like things made sense (for him). And after that, I saw him … completely change and move forward like ten steps in what he wanted to do. It completely revamped what he thought about the military. He thinks this is what he wants to do now. He wants to be a leader.”
Tackett said he’s proud of his paratroopers and how they dug deep to win the Towle/Megellas competition.
“They may not know how big it was for the BSB to go down there and wreck shop like we did. Me, I know the difference,” Tackett said. “That’s something they can carry proudly, that they went and did an amazing job.”