Heavy Metal ‘Regulars’ claim Sullivan Cup: Take first place among 14 other teams
Sgt. Sean Harriman,
2nd HBCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
Four Soldiers of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, recently competed in and won first place in the Sullivan Cup Precision Gunnery Competition held by the Maneuver Center of Excellence May 6 through 10 at Fort Benning, Ga.
The event, a test of physical fitness and an ability to overcome and adapt to the battlefield in both a live and virtual world, placed 15 four-man armor crews from around the globe in a four-day competition to determine the U.S. Army’s top tank crew.
The D Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, team consisted of Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Dilling, tank commander, Sgt. Zachary Shaffer, gunner, Pfc. Braun, driver, and Pfc. Mark Backer, loader.
The event is named for retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, whose career spanned more than 30 years, serving as the Army’s 32nd chief of staff and now serves as the chief operating officer of the Association of the United States Army.
The four-man team trained extensively for each of the events, beginning with physical training twice a day and incorporating other crewmember proficiencies such as the ability to replace an eight-link-long piece of track.
The 1st Bn., 6th Inf. Reg., “Regulars” crew was chosen due to their outstanding performance during tank gunnery earlier in the year.
“They estimated that it would take 45 to 50 minutes to change the track,” said Dilling, the tank commander. “We did it in 29.”
Also key to the team’s victory were two other Soldiers who coached the tank crew throughout the competition, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Welch, the 2nd HBCT, 1st AD, master gunner, and Staff Sgt. Kevin O’Connell, the 1st Bn., 6th Inf. Reg., master gunner.
“Sergeant Welch said it really well earlier when he said that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and we have to do well in every event if we want to compete,” said Braun, the driver.
What set the 2nd HBCT crew apart from the 14 others was their proficiency and communication as a team.
“Working together as a crew was one of the most important things across the board,” said Welch. “None of the events were performed by an individual,” he said.
“The way we went out during the maintenance event and worked together as a crew really set the standard for the rest of the teams,” said Braun.
The most important lesson these Soldiers took away from the event? “Teamwork,” they all said in unison.
“Teamwork and no matter how bad you think you did, never lose focus on the big picture,” said Dilling.
The 2nd HBCT, currently spread throughout White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and other Fort Bliss training areas for the Network Integration Evaluation, also conducts tank and Soldier skills training year round in order to maintain combat readiness.
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