The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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ROTC Takes the Ranger Challenge

The St. John’s University Army ROTC Ranger Challenge team took part in a regional competition at Fort Dix, N.J., and placed 19 out of 24.

The team consisting of eight juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen, competed in eight round robin events against other ROTC Ranger Challenge teams from colleges along the East Coast. The colleges include Penn State, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Lehigh and Hofstra.

“They did pretty well in some portions of the challenge,” said Major Robert Anderson, the ROTC recruiting officer.

“Some people on this team, like the freshmen, have never held a M-16 before and they’re competing against teams with more possibly more experience,” Anderson said.

Living in a city environment poses difficult circumstances that hinder training. Anderson stated that at St. John’s, the ROTC does not have access to a rifle range and it is difficult for the team to travel to Fort Dix to train for the events.

The eight events the team competed in were, a PT (physical training) test, M16 assemble and disassemble, hand grenade assault, patrolling exam, M-16 firing, rope bridge, orienteering and a 6.2 mile ruck march.

Seven of the events are held on the first day of competition with the ruck march held on the second. The events start at 4 a.m. and conclude at sundown. The team does not know the order of the events until they are finished with an event.

The team’s strongest event was the M-16 assemble and disassemble. It is a timed event in which all nine members compete.

“You have to fully break it down and then fully re-assemble it,” team captain Kevin Hughey said.

The team placed third overall in that event.

All of the other events were timed as well. The PT test is an individual event where participants were required to do as many sit ups and push ups in two minutes each, as well as run two miles in 13 minutes. In the hand grenade assault, team members travel in pairs of two and are judged on different ways to move and throw the grenade at targets.

“It challenges you physically as well as concentrating on accuracy,” Robert Vaicels, second in charge, said.

The patrolling exam is a written exam about ambushes, patrolling, how to cross a danger area. The M-16 firing event involves all nine members but only takes the top eight scores. It is an accuracy test.

“You had two minutes to fire 40 rounds,” Hughey said. The targets are set up 50 to 100 meters away.

The orienteering event give the team 80 minutes to go in and get as many points on a map as possible. If they were to go over the 80 minutes, the team would be disqualified. The rope bridge is a nine member event and its purpose is to construct a way to cross a danger area. However, penalties are assessed in this event.

“You can’t drop equipment [while crossing over] and the knots have to be tied certain ways,” Vaicels said. “It really focuses on safety.”

On Sunday, the team competed in the final event, the 6.2 ruck march. The team travels together and must finish together. Each member carried 40-60 pounds on their back, shoulders and waist, as well as a rifle and guide on, or team flag.

According to Anderson, the event is more like a ruck run instead of march.

“You have to finish together,” Hughey said. “That’s where the preparing comes in. You have to mold your team before you get there. You’re only as fast as your slowest person and luck plays a big part.”

The Ranger Challenge team began preparing last March for this past weekend’s regional competition. The team trained Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 7:15 a.m.

The team at St. John’s dates back to the late 1940s and is formed and funded by Cadet Command, a section of the Army for ROTC.

“Cadet Command formed the team to inspire cadets to move onto a higher level of training,” a former team member, 2nd Lt. Phillip Serpico said. “Cadet Command’s image of a cadet is to be perfect, know his stuff, and want to be the best.”

For more information about joining the ROTC and on the Ranger Challenge team, contact Major Robert Anderson at 718-990-2744.

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