MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Tank Gunnery Competition, also known as TIGERCOMP, is an annual competition that has been pitting tank crews from active and reserve units against each other in fierce competition since 1996. This year, the Corps-wide competition brought the best crews from the 1st, 2nd and 4th Tank Battalions to the Combat Center to test their skills. The previous champions, 2nd Tanks, consecutively earned the title the past three years, but their winning streak has been broken.
Marines with 1st Tank Battalion earned first place in the 11th Annual Tank Gunnery Competition, at Range 500, Feb. 20, 2014, proving themselves to be the best from 163 crews from across the Corps. Second place was earned by 2nd Tanks, followed by 4th Tanks in third place.
“I’m happy as I can be as the 1st Tank Battalion [commanding officer] to bring the trophy back here to Twentynine Palms,” said Lt. Col. Gregory T. Poland, CO, 1st Tanks. “I can’t wait to call my commanding general and tell him he has the best tank crew in the Marine Corps.”
TIGERCOMP XI tested each crew’s decision-making abilities, communication, technical proficiency and cohesiveness while operating their tank during six scenarios conducted back-to-back. These scenarios ranged from weapons system changes from the defensive to engaging long and short range targets.
Marine Tankers from each battalion, as well as members of the Tanker’s Association based in San Diego, observed the competition from behind the firing line as the tank crews competed.
Prior to the competition, each crew said they felt confident in taking first place. They had bested the crews within their respective battalions and it was time to take on the best of the others.
“Each of these crews was so good today,” Poland said. “I think it was very close competition. A couple of seconds here or there and any one of them could have walked away with the trophy.”
However, by the end of the competition, Staff Sgt. Kevin Cook, tank commander, Cpl. Matthew Gonzales, gunner, Lance Cpl. Jonathon Shaver, loader, and Lance Cpl. Trevor Lambert, driver, all with 1st Tanks came out ahead of the rest.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Cook said. “Being top the tank crew in the Marine Corps, that’s like being the top tank crew in the military.”
After the competition, an award ceremony was held. The winning battalion received the team trophy, which is now displayed at their headquarters building and the winning four-man crew each received individual trophies and were each awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
The end of TIGERCOMP XI marks the beginning of training for next year, where the best crew from each battalion will meet again to prove who is the best of the battalions.