A pair of Special Forces soldiers took top honors May 9 at the Army’s grueling Best Ranger competition at Fort Benning, Ga. Master Sgts. Eric Turk and Eric Ross, representing Special Operations Command, raised their hands in celebration as they crossed the finish line.
“It feels pretty doggone good to be able to walk out with the trophy today,” Turk said.
The three-day Best Ranger competition is among the more difficult challenges in the Army. Reaching the end is an accomplishment; nearly half of the two-man Ranger teams washed out on the first day.
“It’s kind of like the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Daytona 500 and the World Cup for the Army and the Ranger community,” Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Smith, Ranger Training Brigade command sergeant major, said in an Army news release. “Just to finish it is saying a lot. These competitors are the best of the best.”
The competition started with a four-mile buddy run, a 250-meter swim and another three-mile run to the first obstacle course.
After the urban obstacle course, teams went to firing ranges for weapons skills events. Next up was another buddy run. The first day ended with a spot jump and a 13-mile road march.
Only 26 teams began the second day’s events of completing Ranger skills stations that included rappelling, rope climbs, first aid, hand grenades and additional weapons skills challenges. The day ended with an overnight orienteering course.
On day three, competitors tackled a mile-long obstacle course, then constructed rafts and dropped with their rafts from a helicopter into a pond. They swam to shore to finish the event. They wrapped up the day with a water confidence test, canoe race and then a run to the finish line.
Twenty-five of the more than 40 teams finished.
“It sucks, I’m not going to lie,” said Staff Sgt. Keith Bach, representing 3rd Infantry Division.
Capt. John Vickery, project officer for Best Ranger, said the Rangers who completed the competition had earned bragging rights.
“Over the past three days, the competitors covered more than 60 miles on foot for over 60 hours without sleep, and very little food intake,” he said in the Army news release. “All those teams that completed the competition are really, really good teams.”