Staff Sgt. Joel Pena
10th Mountain Division Journalist
Hundreds of Soldiers from the 7th Engineer Battalion cheered on their brothers in arms Friday during the battalion’s “Hammer Olympics” at Sapper Field. The unit, known as “Hammer Battalion,” had five four-man teams, representing each company in the battalion.
“The Olympics are a way to build esprit de corps,” said 1st Lt. Brian J. Weber, assistant S-2. “We use physical challenges and competition every payday as a tool to increase teamwork within the battalion while reinforcing an emphasis on physical readiness regard- less of the challenge.”
The frigid morning started with temperatures in the single digits, but that didn’t deter Lt. Col. Michael N. Clancy, 7th Engineer Battalion commander, and his Soldiers from going on a 2.5-mile run before the start of the Olympics.
After the run, Clancy gave his Soldiers a pep talk in order to instill enthusiasm and boost morale.
“The train doesn’t stop here at Fort Drum,” Clancy said. “Tenth Mountain Soldiers are not afraid of the cold. We train, and we train hard to meet any challenge that’s thrown at us.”
After the talk, Clancy asked the competitors to line up to start the first event – the 150-meter snowshoe sprint to the paintball shoot. Once aligned at the start point, Clancy asked for a round of applause for all of the teams competing.
The competitors waited for the signal.
The sound of “Go” set the crowd on frenzy, as they cheered for their respective team.
The first two representatives of each team ran as fast as they could – slinging snow from the bottom of their snowshoes onto their faces – while making their way to the second challenge.
At the second challenge, the paintball shoot, competitors lined up to shoot five rounds into an M4 target 25 meters away.
After the shoot, one team member lay on a sled as the other member – still wearing snow shoes – pulled him back to the start point where their teammates anxiously waited to repeat the events.
Once all team members completed the 150-meter run, paintball shoot and sled drag, they met back at the start line.
Soldiers then had to complete the fireman carry wearing snowshoes to the next event, which lay 200 meters away.
Grunts and huffing could be heard as each exhausted team member took turns carrying each other on their backs toward the final event – the snow shovel competition.
Once all members arrived, they scooped up snow with their hands, shovels and anything they could find to clear a six-by-six-foot area.
Once the snow settled, only one team was left standing victorious – Headquarters Support Company.
“I’ve been here since July,” said Pfc. John Casiano, HSC team member. “This is my first competition, and it feels good to win.”
The winners of the Hammer Olympics Challenge earned bragging rights, but perhaps the real reward for the Soldiers was the sense of victory they experienced when crossing the finish line.