Army challenges Houston students

wcrenshaw@macon.comApril 12, 2014 

  • The Army detachment that works with J-STARS at Robins Air Force Base conducted the first Army Warrior Challenge on Saturday for Houston County Junior-ROTC students. by Wayne Crenshaw

Army challenges Houston junior ROTC students

WARNER ROBINS -- U.S. Army troops stationed at Robins Air Force Base gave some Houston County junior ROTC students a test Saturday that went way beyond twirling ceremonial rifles.

As a part of the annual J-ROTC Field Day at McConnell-Talbert Stadium, the Army detachment that works with the J-STARS at Robins organized the Army Warrior Challenge. It included a series of events that gauged students’ physical stamina and their ability to work together and solve problems.

Events included some that were strenuous to the body, such as flipping a large tire, and some that were strenuous to the mind, such as figuring out how to use a few limited items to move a bucket of simulated hazardous material without getting within three feet of it.

All of the events tested teamwork in some manner, including one in which students had to guide a blindfolded person through an obstacle course.

Lt. Col. Todd Morgan, the Army J-STARS detachment commander, said that while the event was called the Army Warrior Challenge, the principles they sought to instill in students are universal across the military.

“We want them to have more confidence in themselves and think about, ultimately, is this a career they want to pursue, regardless of service or branch,” he said. “Sometimes some of this is going to be tough, and they need to realize it’s not all about wearing a uniform and looking good.”

Teams of 10 each from Veterans, Warner Robins and Houston County high schools competed, and students seemed to enjoy it.

One event challenged students to carry each other on their shoulders. Ali Adams, a Veterans High School junior, fell while carrying her teammate on the first try. They had to return to the starting line, but on the second attempt she made it, prompting one of the soldiers to praise her for showing heart.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Adams said, as she was still trying to catch her breath. “Even though I dropped her the first time I was able to finish the second time.”

Students did a rucksack run, in which they had to cover a half-mile as a team while carrying a 20-pound pack on their backs. Another event involved students using binoculars to scan for enemies in the distance, which were represented by toy figures.

They also did map reading, tried to toss a softball into a tire, worked to move as a team while standing on two boards attached with ropes and raced while carrying a teammate on a stretcher.

“I think they are finding a lot of this stuff is not as easy as it looks,” Morgan said as the event neared its end.

Finley Woods, a Warner Robins High School senior, was blindfolded as his team navigated the obstacle course.

“You’ve just got to trust your partner and listen,” he said.

Houston County won the Warrior Challenge.

Morgan said they will do the challenge again next year if the school system wants them to.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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