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Marines with the Combat Center’s Consolidated Material Support Center embark on an eight-mile training hike Oct. 16, aboard the Combat Center. CMSC is stepping outside their normal role as supply and undertaking the Darkside Derby in two squads, the warehouse and the office in December when the competition starts.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Headquarters Battalion Marines take on infantry challenge

23 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Marines from the Combat Center’s Consolidated Material Support Center are currently preparing for something they have never done before, which is the Darkside Derby, a squad competition started by 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

The Marines of CMSC are stepping outside of their natural element to challenge themselves and gain a higher skill set than they would training for their regular, day-to- day jobs, said Maj. Douglas Burkman, the officer in charge of CMSC and a native of Encino, Calif.

“The Darkside Derby is an event created by [Col. Bryan McCoy] in 2002 or 2003 when he was the commanding officer of 3/4,” Burkman said. “When I first arrived, I wanted to do something to challenge the Marines in a competition and their overall physical fitness.”

Burkman elaborated on the challenges his Marines would be undertaking.

“The five-day derby begins with a [Physical Fitness Test] Monday,” he said. “There is a weight lifting event the second day followed by a 10-mile run the third day.

“Thursday was changed from the [obstacle course] to the [Combat Fitness Test],” he said. “The last day of the competition, Friday, is a 20-mile hike.”

Burkman said the challenge is a great opportunity for his Marines who don’t have experience in a deployed environment, or who have never prepared for one.

“Most of our Marines here can’t deploy right now,” he said. “Before they get a chance to go to another unit, this competition will give us a chance to prepare them, and show them a lot of techniques and what the situation will be like when they go to a deploying unit.”

He added the unit has been divided to increase the infighting and make it more intense for the Marines.

“We’ve split ourselves up into two teams to promote better competition,” he said. “There’s the warehouse team and the office team, so all the Marines will have a chance for some in-house competition.”

Burkman described the various benefits his Marines would take from training for and participating in the derby.

“Our Marines are going to take a lot from the competition,” he said. “It’s great for building camaraderie, but the number one benefit is seeing what it takes to go to combat and deploy.”

The Marines of CMSC are confident in their abilities as a team and claim they are ready to take on challengers.

“We welcome all competitors to come out and endure five days of intense physical training,” said Sgt. Malina Shippen, a supply chief with CMSC and a native of Philadelphia.

Other Marines from CMSC see the value of the competition.

“Its an opportunity for a non-deployable unit to focus on a challenge that builds camaraderie,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Spurgeon, a supply clerk with CMSC and a native of Mobile, Ala. “The Darkside Derby is a good way for Marines to test the peak of their strength.”

CMSC will continue to build up for their training event, which is scheduled to begin in December aboard the Combat Center.

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