This year’s Pride of PA ROTC Battalion (BN) participated in the annual 2nd Brigade Ranger Challenge competition from Friday, Oct. 14 to Sunday, Oct. 16.
The event was held at Camp Smith NY, with 11 of the 13 members being Mercyhurst students. The team was led by Mercyhurst senior and Cadet Battalion Commander Steve Marrocco. The other Mercyhurst members were seniors Zach Forrester and Patrick Wallenhorst; juniors Lindsey Bostwick, Adam King, Cameron Kunkel and Dillon Lynch; sophomores Danny Graham, Eric Pelosi and Mark Woodel; and freshman Tom Diehl.
Each of the ROTC battalions in the 2nd Brigade competed against each other with a 10-person team of the best cadets from each battalion in the Ranger Challenge competition. Each team has 10 cadets who have trained since the beginning of school for the challenge, and each team must have one senior, one junior, one sophomore, one freshman and one female.
The events in the competition were a physical fitness test, land navigation, one rope bridge crossing, IED reaction, leader’s reaction course, EST 2000 weapons, grenade assault course, weapons assembly, military operations in urban terrain and room clearing, a written test and a surprise challenge for team captains.
Marrocco’s role as captain was “to lead the team throughout training and the competition. I am responsible for making sure everyone knows their roles and is prepared,” he said.
“This year the team performed very well. We finished first in the ruck march and overall time in our division,” Marrocco added.
Diehl said he liked the competition.
“It was fast-paced and I learned a ton throughout training and the actual event. I will definitely do Ranger Challenge again,” he said.
Moreover, Diehl explained that “the team is pretty close, and during the competition we did a great job of encouraging each other, especially during the ruck march.”
There was also a new twist in this year’s competition.
During the 10-kilometer ruck march, the team had to carry a water-filled 5-gallon can from the halfway mark.
Marrocco and Forrester “led by example” while carrying the water can almost the entire way and exemplified “out of the box” thinking by sliding half of the guidon staff (the flag carried during the march) through the water can’s carrying handle, allowing Forrester to help carry half of the load. The other teams who saw the clever solution quickly adopted the technique.
“The stats are still not out for all of the teams in the brigade,” said Marrocco.
Mike Gallagher is a member of the Pride of PA Battalion.