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Ranger Group Inductees Candidate Class 02-13
By Cadet Zachary Knowles, JMU Army ROTC Ranger Group Commander
The JMU Ranger Company inducted four new members on Sunday, 23 FEB 2014, amongst its ranks. After weeks of physical and mental stress and testing, class 02-13 was initiated into the JMU Ranger Company. This now puts the Ranger Company 17 cadets strong. As six seniors will be leaving us this year, it was important for us to keep the tradition of the JMU Ranger Company alive. The term candidacy refers to the process in which one cadet must go through in order to be eligible for entrance into the JMU Ranger Company. This process lasts weeks and is where prospective candidates, under the supervision of both Cadre and current Ranger Company leaders, learn new military skills while under immense physical and mental stress that help candidates to achieve their full potential. The JMU Ranger Company quickly shifted its focus to the Sandhurst Competition, which was held in early April at the United States West Point Military Academy. After competing and finishing first in the 4th Brigade Ranger Challenge in the fall of 2013, JMU was invited to the Sandhurst Competition in order to compete. Teams from all around the world sent cadets to compete in this competition.
The next couple of months included strenuous physical training as well as many mental challenges that will help prepare the Sandhurst Team for the upcoming competition. There were several weekend spent at field training exercises (FTXs) that prepared us for Sandhurst. On our second field training exercise (FTX) the training events focused on first aid, call for fire, rope bridge, hand grenade assault course, and land navigation. These are just a few of the many events that the Sandhurst Team will faced at Sandhurst. Other events included weapons assembly and disassembly, Army radio assembly and disassembly, zodiac boat movement, obstacle course, rifle marksmanship, Army Physical Assessment Test (APFT), and many more strenuous events. It is very important that the Sandhurst Team built itself as a cohesive unit and worked together as a team. The focus of the Sandhurst Competition is not about individuals; this competition was solely constructed to identify which groups of cadets work best with one another while accomplishing a variety of different tasks. The cadets who competed in the Sandhurst Competition have been training together for years, which is one of the reasons why they did so well during Ranger Challenge in the fall and will be the reason why they finished in the top half of the field at Sandhurst.
The Sandhurst Competition itself proved to be quite the experience for everyone who competed. The Sandhurst team consisted of 9 cadets, and 2 alternates. The team arrived at West Point on 06 April 2014 and had four days of train up prior to the actual competition. The competition took place from 11-12 April and included events such as rifle marksmanship, pistol marksmanship, land navigation, one-rope bridge, 12-foot wall obstacle, hand grenade assault course, tactical combat casualty care, first aid, weapons assembly/disassembly, and a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) movement course. The first day was considered the “controlled movement” day, which consisted of an 11-mile foot march with a total gear load of 60lbs. Throughout this 11-mile movement, there were 6 events in between that the Sandhurst team had to complete. The first day ended with each team setting up a BIVOUC site for the night. The next morning was considered the “speed movement”. Day 2 was a much shorter movement, about 7 miles, and consisted of 8 events. The entire day consisted of running and conducting events in the fastest time possible. The key to winning Sandhurst is to accomplish each task given to you in the fastest time possible with occurring the least amount of penalties. Another key item to winning is to make all of your time-hacks to each event. Each Squad Leader was given a sheet with each event on it and a certain time-hack for you to get to each event. If you were not on time, you would receive a pretty severe penalty. The Sandhurst team made a couple mistakes on two events during Day 1 that set them back from placing towards the top in the competition. There were many things learned throughout the competition that I learned personally as the Squad Leader. For one, it is extremely important that you read the OPORDs (operations orders) for each event thoroughly. There were a couple events where they would try and trick you to see if you read the OPORD thoroughly. For example, on certain events, not everyone on the team needed to complete the event and only a certain amount of equipment was needed to complete the event. These little in-depth details will make or break teams depending on who read and analyzed each event’s OPORD. Another lesson I learned throughout the competition is that as a leader, you should never rush into making a plan. Having a well-developed plan will always be better than making a rushed plan. Throughout the competition, I was only allotted so much time to brief the OPROD to my squad and make a plan before our time clock started. During some of the events, I felt rushed to quickly come up with a plan, which would result in a less than average performance. As a leader, I learned that it is better to take the time to develop a through plan than to rush it and take the chance of something going wrong. After looking back, I learned a lot as a leader that I will be able build on as a future Officer. JMU placed 24th out of 57 teams, which included 36 West Point teams, 8 ROTC teams, and international teams from around the globe. However, with that being said, each member of JMU’s Sandhurst team performed exceptionally well and cannot wait to be back next year to take home first place.
Candidate Class 02-13 pictured above (from top left to bottom right): John Cundiff, Austin Miller, Garrett Mannion, Cru Ullian.
The JMU Ranger Group pictured above (from top left to bottom right): Cameron Lucas, David Wilson, Zak Knowles, James Caron, Josh Cogdell, Evan Brown, Patrick McCue, Jackson Snyder, Rob Chuckney, Alex Seitz, Ben Miller, Evan Plumley, Eric Gaertner, Garrett Mannion, John Cundiff, Austin Miller, Cru Ullian.
Sandhurst Team pictured above (from top left to bottom right): John Cundiff, Garrett Mannion, Jackson Snyder, David Wilson, Ben Miller, James Caron, Cameron Lucas, Kaitlyn Dills, Erin Pace, Zak Knowles, Rob Chuckney
Sandhurst Team pictured above (from top left to bottom right): Ben Miller, John Cundiff, Cameron Lucas, Garrett Mannion, Jackson Snyder, Kaitlyn Dills, Erin Pace, James Caron, David Wilson, Zak Knowles, Rob Chuckney