Families support Rangers competition

By SARA PAUFFspauff@ledger-enquirer.com

Ginger Soule watched anxiously, video camera in hand, as her two sons, Capt. Jeff Soule and Maj. Greg Soule, each scaled one of three climbing towers set up on Todd Field Saturday afternoon.

The Tri-Tower challenge is only one of the obstacles at Fort Benning's Best Ranger competition, and she said, probably not the most difficult.

Soule said she thinks the night tasks, completed by the Rangers in pitch-black darkness on minimal sleep, have to be the most difficult and stressful for her sons, who were teamed together representing the Army ROTC.

"I did feel guilty getting out of bed this morning. The sheets were all soft and warm," she said.

Several friends and family members of the 28 two-man Ranger teams came out to support and cheer them on, as each team completed the challenges for Ranger Day Stakes. As part of the three-day competition, teams must complete a series of tests, including a parachute drop, stress shoot and an overnight 20 mile foot march.

"Every year the course gets a little harder," said Lt. Gen. David Grange, for whom the Best Ranger competition is named. "There are many things they are expected to know. It's a very arduous course."

"It's really great," said Bobby Billings, who came from Fairmont, Ind., to watch his son, Sgt. Jeremy Billings. Billings, along with Sfc. Jeremiah Beck, made up team No. 9. "So far we've been really pleased. He's in second place."

Billings said he thinks the night tasks have to be the most difficult. "We can't be here to see what's going on...I've been awake two or three days at a time before and on the third day it's stressful."

Angie Cufaude, who's husband, Staff Sgt. Darren Cufaude is a Ranger school instructor, said the road march is the toughest. "They lose almost half their teams in that event," she said, as she watched the competition with her 2-year-old daughter, Madison.

"There's no way I could do it," she said. "All of the guys have a lot of strength and endurance and courage."

Today is the final day of the competition. The award ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Monday.