Fort Benning

3 teams drop out on first day of Best Ranger Competition

On a wet and dreary first day of the 32nd Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition, a team from the 7th Infantry Division was leading near the end of Friday's events to determine the best Ranger team in the Army.

The team of 1st Lt. Colin Raymond and 1st Lt. Eric Kim was leading just before the stress shooting event at the Malone 15 Range. They were trailed by 1st Lt. Kyle Cobb and David Matthews of the 25th Infantry Division in second and Maj. Ronald Sprang and 1st Lt. Seth Prosser of the 10th Mountain Division in third place.

At least three of the 51 teams dropped out of the competition on the first day after the three-day event started at 6 a.m. Friday at Camp Rogers. Some of the two-man teams experienced injuries and others were hit with new setbacks.

"If the medics have to see you and put hands on you to assist you in any medical manner, then you get dropped from the competition not only for their safety but for our safety as well," said 1st Lt. Zackary Hartley of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. "When they went, there were a few teams with previous ankle injuries, new injuries and heat injuries."

Rain was sporadic during the day as soldiers trekked to Malone Range after exercises at the Malvesti Field, Victory Pond and the McKenna MOUT Site. At the range, Hartley said a team's ability to set the sight on an M4 service rifle and fire the weapon were part of the range exercise. Teams had to stay focused despite the rain.

"It started off pretty cloudy, rather warm and sunny and halfway through the competition the rain started coming in," Hartley said. "It's been pretty hard and sporadic throughout the event."

The crackle of gunshots were common at the range as team supporters watched the competition.

After the shooting exercise, Ranger teams moved nearby for the land navigation event. Sgt. 1st Class Michael Poole said the event would test a team's ability to get from one point to another within a certain time.

"This particular event teaches you how to navigate through the land with a map and protractor," Poole said. "Of course that is without any kind of technology. No cellphone of GPS. This is the old way."

With the rain and thick vegetation covering the site, Poole said the conditions weren't ideal but a team could finish the course in three hours or less.

Ranger teams get no breaks after the land navigation. Many would start early today with a grueling foot march, an event that usually reduces the teams significantly before daylight.

Eileen Gorman of Chicago was watching the event with her 18-year-old son, Jack Gorman, and her sister. Gorman said she is supporting the Special Operations team. "That is who we are taking," she said. "We are putting our money on them."

Gorman said her son is scheduled to enter the Army this summer, and he wants to become a Ranger.

"He'd love to train for the Rangers," she said. "Not everybody gets a chance. He's on the sport's team and he is busy with that now. He is excited about it."

The competition continues today with Night Stakes at Camp Rogers, Day Stakes at Todd Field and Night Orienteering from Bush Hill to Camp Darby. Relatives and supporters of Ranger teams may watch competition at Todd Field and cheer on soldiers as they complete exercises.