When the starting gun was fired this morning for the 30th annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, only 49 of 50 teams lined up for the foot march at Camp Rogers.
Capt. Vikas Bakshi and Staff Sgt. Dylan Miner of team No. 31 weren’t able to start the grueling event after one member sustained a superficial arm injury Thursday while training for a static line parachute jump.
Just before 6 a.m., retired Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr., for whom the competition is named, greeted every team before Rangers went on a 2.5 mile buddy run along the Old Cusseta Highway. Grange said he wanted to give the soldiers a boost. “I just patted them on the back and told them they were doing a good job,” he said. Over the next three days, the competition pushes two-man teams to the limits with 60 hours of events that include firing weapons, marching with gear for miles and other timed exercises. Teams will get tested in physical conditioning, skills and strategies to determine the best team in the Army.
Family and friends gathered along the road to cheer on the teams. Jennie Cornwall was there to support team No. 49, her husband 1st Lt. Travis Cornwall and 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar from the National Guard. The Columbus family waved signs with a stone face, serious photo of Cornwall as he and Plocar finished the foot march .
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Until mid day, teams will tackle the obstacle course at the Darby Queen. It takes about 25 minutes for each team to complete the course.