2009 EPISODE 4 of 12: SPOT JUMP
With more than 160 pounds of equipment on their backs, competitors race to see who will be the first to cross the finish line.
49 Ranger teams attacked the most difficult obstacle course in the Army, the Darby Queen. Team 8, Farmer and McDowell, won the Buddy Run but struggled at the conclusion of the Darby Queen. Three other teams were unable to continue due to injuries they suffered on the course. Next up: the Spot Jump. The competitors will now move from Camp Darby to the Drop Zone at Lee Field. Because of the low cloud cover, they are forced to travel by ground until the cloud cover lifts.
Traditionally, for the Spot Jump, the teams would prepare for a low altitude jump, get on a Blackhawk and fly to Lee DZ, the drop zone. Make a jump from 1,500 feet, attempting to land in the target circle. But this year the weather's not cooperating. Sergeant First Class Matthew J. Deleon: "Originally, it's the Spot Jump, and they'll go ahead and jump from 1,500 feet. From there, they'll go ahead and locate the center circle and their whole purpose is to actually try and land their bodies inside the circle. From there they'll go ahead and collect their air items and all their gear from the center, with their litters and all the air items, and they'll go ahead and run from that circle point all the way to the finish point, which is noted right there with the PS17 panel."
With any military operation, there are always choices when overcoming obstacles; failure is not one of them.
SFC Matthew J. Deleon: "The ceiling was low. It was about 800 AGL. We had to make an adjustment and go to the alternate event. And so, we had to go to the truck early this morning. And, as it cleared out, we got enough so that the pilots could at least identify the markings on the ground."
The competitors still need to complete the ground portion of the Spot Jump. With more than 160 pounds of equipment between them, they need to cover the 400 meters from the center circle to the finish line as fast as they can.
SFC Matthew J. Deleon: "There's 50 competitors out here and to finish number one, or even just to place, I would think in my personal perspective, in the top ten would be an achievement in itself because you're going against the best of the best."
Team 21, Sergeant First Class Simms and Stackpole, had the fastest time of the spot jump. Master Sergeants, Zajkowski and Jenkins, had the third fastest time, allowing them to hold off Stackpole and Simms by four points and hold on to the lead. Team 8 Farmer and McDowell, can't be counted out yet; they've recovered from the Darby Queen to post the fifth fastest time for the Spot Jump.
Team 31, Sergeants Munchie and Antia, placed 18th in the Buddy Run. Now, after the Darby Queen and the Spot Jump, they've moved up to 12th position. From there, they move up the hill to the next event, a 2.5 mile Buddy Run to Malone 12. Now, with the stress of the Spot Jump behind them for just a minute, Team 31 can relax.
SSG Michael C. Munchie: "You're heart rate doesn't jump up from having to jump. You've got to maintain and relax."
SSG Miguel A. Antia: "Less ah. You know, you have a chance to get hurt. So, now that they took it out so then that's more chance for me to stay in. I mean, we're tracking."
While most weekend warriors put in a 30-minute run and call it good, Rangers don't consider it worth a day's effort unless it involves a 60-pound ruck sack, 80% humidity and at least 26 miles uphill. CPT Micah Niebauer: "We started off strong. It was humid this morning and we got dehydrated real fast for the first two events: the Buddy Run and the Darby Queen. It's been a real smoker."
The Rangers are now making their way across Fort Benning to the Malone Ranges for the next several events. Five hours into the competition and well into the fourth event, strength, stamina and strategies are on everyone's mind as they arrive at Malone 12: the Machine Gun Range. Next time on BRC 2009: The Rangers will face 21 pop-up targets at 400 to 800 meters using crew-served weapons, machine guns.
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