MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Fifteen Marine fireteams stood outside the combat operations center for 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Reigment shortly before sunrise. They were the Marines of Company E, 2/7, ready to embark on a rigorous, 7-mile race with seven obstacles in various locations aboard the Combat Center Sept. 26, 2013.
With each team led by a designated fireteam leader and maps in hand, the groups set out for a morning of running, obstacles and competition that would leave them looking filthy but begging for more.
“We wanted to test if our fireteams could operate under uncertainty, and if the team leader could lead when he’s called upon do so,” said Capt. Will Kerrigan, company commander, E Co., 2/7. “A good company also likes competition, and this was certainly one.”
The first stop for each team was the obstacle course. Marines were required to undergo the entire course twice, helping each other get through all obstacles if necessary. Next, they quickly ran to the Training Tank, where each Marine completed a 400-meter swim wearing their Marine Corps physical training shorts.
Next, the Marines found that the course was designed to test them not only physically but mentally. They stopped to conduct a full weapon assembly of the M16A4 service rifle with the M203 grenade launcher attachment, M9 Baretta pistol, and M240 Bravo machine gun.
“This course tested aerobic and anaerobic physical fitness with a combination of long-distance running and physical obstacles,” Kerrigan said. “In addition, special stations were set up to test their mental capability, to see if the Marines could still think under fatigue.”
Next was a simulated call-for-fire mission in which team leaders used a map to designate a target. Marines then found themselves at the Ripper Crossfit Gym and did not leave until each Marine had completed 50 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, 50 dips, and 50 air-squats.
“There’s nothing easy about Echo Company,” Kerrigan said. “We like to do things tough.”
Marines made it even closer to the finish line when they arrived at a “terms and graphics” station, which is where they had to call upon their geographic comprehension skills to identify terrain features such as hills, saddles and valleys.
Finally, the last station was a simulated casualty evacuation exercise. Marines placed a simulated casualty on a stretcher and transported him to a landing zone, all while providing security for the casualty and each other.
“This race helped build unit cohesion,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Mojer, company executive officer, Co. E, 2/7. “I'm surprised to see how well the fireteams have done with this course.”
Marines made the final stretch to complete the 7-mile circuit by returning to the starting point. The fireteam with the fastest overall time was rewarded with a 72-hour liberty pass.
“I saw this as a team-building competition,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan Chrisley, infantryman, E Co., 2/7. “It brought our guys together and the challenges made them closer. I think we did very well.”
The unit intends to schedule more competitive events like this in the future as the Marines of Company E maintain mission readiness and await the next challenge.
“We will learn that by the end of the day, the company will be that much closer,” Kerrigan said. “No one can mess with this company, and no one will.”