West Point-bound ROTC team earns top regional awar...

West Point-bound ROTC team earns top regional award

MTSU’s 11-member ROTC Ranger Challenge team is reaping the rewards of some mid-October efforts.

The team was honored Nov. 10 with the presentation of the first-place award it captured during the annual ROTC 7th Brigade “Bold Warrior Challenge” Oct. 14 at Fort Knox, Ky.

Col. Michael Chinn, 7th Brigade commander and cadet commander at Fort Knox, delivered the award to the MTSU ROTC program team. The public event was held in the Tom H. Jackson Building; MTSU’s Veterans Memorial is located outside the facility.

“The Blue Raider batallion has done something they haven’t done since 1999—and then the competition was only against 20 other teams,” said Lt. Col. T.K. Kast, chair of MTSU’s Department of Military Science. “We watched a lot of teams think about it too long, and they thought themselves right out of it. We’re extremely proud of our team. They are a reflection of the entire battalion.”

Col. Michael Chinn, left, 7th Brigade commander and cadet commander at Fort Knox, Ky., prepares to present the first-place award from the regional "Bold Warrior Challenge" to members of MTSU's ROTC Ranger Challenge team in the Tom Jackson Building Nov. 10. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Ranger Challenge team members include Brandon Pearson, Kim Isham, Kenneth Davie, Chase Morris, Elizabeth Dang, Elliot Ralston, Justin McIntosh, Brenden Duke, Wesley Smitty, Austin Blanchard and William Kemp.

Capt. Aaron Billingsley and Master Sgt. Chad Price are cadre instructors for the team.

“It was an outstanding effort by the entire team,” added Team Captain Brandon Pearson. “We started training the first week of school, and each member shed tears, blood and sweat just to get there. We were ecstatic when we first heard that we had won. It took a couple of days for it to sink in.”

Because of its first-place showing, the team will advance to The Sandhurst Competition, an international event, in April 2012 at West Point, N.Y.

The Bold Warrior Challenge is a two-day event that tests the physical and mental strength as well as the endurance of ROTC cadets. The competition also included a strict evaluation of cadets’ land navigation, marksmanship, weapons, waterborne operations, hand grenades, and basic patrolling skills and knowledge.

“You ought to be proud,” Chinn told the MTSU cadets. “This course was not easy. This course was unknown to everyone who competed. You didn’t know how long it was or what tactics you would need to deploy. You had to think as a team. And you defeated 43 other teams. Congratulations.”

— Randy Weiler (