With sand on their faces, mud up to their chests, and sweat pouring down their backs, all anyone could hear were powerful grunts coming from the depths of the Sappers’ core.
Paratroopers from Company A, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, showed their Sapper pride during a long endurance “Boat PT” on July 3.
This company of engineers prides itself on having the best Sappers in the 82nd Airborne Division. But that pride comes at a cost as the troopers push themselves both mentality and physically to be the best.
1st Sgt. Danny Castleberry, Company A’s first sargeant, has extensive knowledge and experience to share with his troopers.
With 28 months as a Sapper instructor, Castleberry is building more than a team of elite paratroopers, he is molding the foundation for the Army’s fiercest team of Sappers.
Castleberry has taken the
knowledge he has gained from training Sapper students and applied it to training his own paratroopers.
“In our company area, the troopers painted my guidon stand engineer red, two of my noncommissioned officers created a knots board complete with checkpoints and purposes as well as a demo characteristics board, and a sand table,” said Castleberry.
“These not only look high speed, but allow our young troopers an opportunity to sharpen their skills while waiting for the day to begin or end,” he added.
As physical training began on that humid July morning, the troopers from Company A began pumping themselves up for the endurance challenge that lay ahead.
Assigned to a Zodiak boat, each team was made up of at least 12 Sappers.
Their trek started at Pike Field and blazed through the trails that surrounded it. While carrying the Zodiac, each member of the team was responsible for keeping up their end of the bargain. With small pools of muddy water that reached almost to their chests, and sand
covering their faces making it harder for them to see, the troopers shouted and motivated each other to keep on pushing.
The teams had a firm grip on the Zodiak while doing boat press flutter kicks, boat curls, military boat press and the boat race to. With Castleberry at the helm, the motivation level was extremely high.
“If all I had to do was count on my Sappers to be motivated, I’d never have to
come to work,” said Castleberry. “The in-brief I gave all of my troopers when I arrived is the same I give my new troopers when they get here — ‘be the best.’” “I tell them that it doesn’t mean always win, but if you always give it your best and someone does a little better, at least you know they spent the best day of their life beating you,” he explained.
This type of physical training is only the tip of
the iceberg when it comes to being part of Company A.
Boat PT was no different from any other training they receive when it was all done. As they would in combat or after a defensive stand during joint operations access exercise, they look at the Sapper next to them and know that they did the absolute best they could.
Before leaving Pike Field and heading back to the
company area to begin his workday, Castleberry reflected on the training and history he instilled in his troopers.
“I want my Sappers to know that stringing concertina wire in MOPP 4, providing dig support for 36 consecutive hours, or looking to find IEDs before they find you in a combat environment, it takes a certain type of Soldier … we call them Sappers … we lead the way!”