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375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephanie Henry
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

A brand new competition here had elite teams and entire squadrons putting their physical, mental and readiness skills to the test in a one-of-a-kind Warrior Challenge event May 9.

The event was designed to build on the wing’s warrior culture by applying lessons learned from throughout Scott’s history while practicing its readiness skills and fitness requirements to “Deliver Victory” against any adversary.

The day was divided into two focus areas:

  • The Warrior Challenge consisted of 13 different five-person-mixed-gender teams who rucked the 6.2 mile perimeter of the base while carrying a combined weight of 125 pounds. They were tested at five locations on their readiness skills while being scored by time, accuracy, efficiency and safety on the following:
    • How well they performed Tactical Combat Casualty Care scenarios;
    • Accuracy and calm during a stress test shooting exercise;
    • Ability to construct a runway repair portion of a ramp by using AM2 matting;
    • How well they rescued patients in a combat zone and load them onto a C-130 for air evac; and
    • By demonstrating the proper way to build and load pallets of cargo for aircraft use.
       
  • The Squadron Cup consisted of nine teams of 25 people who were required to complete four stations of skills that focused on teamwork, communication, physical fitness, and problem solving. They were also scored on speed, accuracy, efficiency and safety. They ran in formation to their locations for the following:
    • Agile Combat Employment Leadership Reaction Course;
    • Army Air Corps Radio School Field Exercise (focused on effective communication);
    • Rifle Fighting and Combatives; and 
    • Marine Combat Fitness Test.

Col. John Poole, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, explained the historical significance of the challenge, and why he wanted to create an event to honor the past while connecting his wing to future readiness requirements.

During the Army Air Corps era at Scott Field, units would often host field days filled with competition. Col. John A. Paegelow, who served as Scott Air Field’s first commander from 1923-1933, designed a silver trophy cup bearing his name as well as the name of the winning unit. The catch was that the unit had to win three times before it could be inscribed on the trophy. There is only a handful of units inscribed. The first unit to earn this honor was the 9th Airship Company in 1924, and the last was in 1943.

The commander said he wanted to honor that heritage in this competition, so while the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron ultimately won the day for the Squadron Cup portion of the event, they will need to win it another two times before being inscribed. They can, however, display it proudly in their unit for now. 

An airman smiles at camera while crossing the finish line during a base warrior challenge.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Faith Akenga, 375th Comptroller Squadron finance technician, and the 375th Wing Staff Agency Warrior Challenge team approaches the finish line ion the contest on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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5 Airmen walk in uniform and helmets while competing in base readiness challenge.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

The 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron Warrior Challenge team approach the finish line of the contest on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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An Airmen wearing OCPs and Battle Rattle adjusts netting on the ground.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Andrew Cramer, 375th Medical Support Squadron medical lab technician, prepares cargo netting to be secured onto a pallet during the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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An airmen aims weapon down hallway in front of a metal wall.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bruce Weir, 375th Security Forces Squadron standardization and evaluation chief, clears a room at a stress test shooting trial during the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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Airmen perform medical care onto a mannequin on the ground.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

375th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen apply Tactical Combat Casualty Care on a training mannequin during the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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An inflatable dragon is held about a group of airmen.

375th 'Delivers Victory' with new Warrior Challenge competition

375th Communications Group Airmen rally around the 375th Communications Squadron dragon heraldry prior to the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Capable Airmen objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

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An airmen places a patch onto another Airmen's uniform.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Andrews, 375th Air Mobility Wing command chief, places patches on Airmen who placed in the top three teams of the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Ready Airman objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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A silver trophy named The Squadron Cup sits on stage at a Wing Readiness Day competition.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

The Squadron Cup, named after Col. John A. Paegelow, who served as Scott Air Field’s first commander for 10 years during its Lighter-than-Air Era (1923-1933), was awarded to the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron. Held on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024, the Squadron Cup competition featured four distinct components: Agile Combat Employment Leadership Reaction Course, Army Air Corps Radio School Field Exercise, Rifle Fighting and Combatives, and Marine Combat Fitness Test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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An airmen does low crawl on a grass field.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Andrew Stockdale, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, low crawls during the Maneuver Under Fire portion of the Marine Combat Fitness Test on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Marine Combat Fitness Test provided a holistic evaluation of the Airmen’s readiness and combat capabilities by navigating through physically demanding challenges to hone their endurance, agility, and combat effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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An airmen holds radio and speaks into it.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Giliespie, 375th Security Forces Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of police services, relays information to his team during the Army Air Corps Radio School Field Exercise on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Army Air Corps Radio School Field Exercise had teams navigate through different scenarios, like making accurate chess moves simultaneously while hundreds of feet away from each other, effectively communicating and strategically coordinating their actions under a short time limit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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Airmen look at manual while others carry planks of wood in the background.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

Airmen from the 458th Airlift Squadron, 54th Airlift Squadron and 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, conduct a SALUTE report during the Agile Combat Employment Leadership Reaction Course on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. A team building exercise, Airmen utilized their Ready Airman Training to excel at the ACE Leadership Reaction Course and its individual components in rapid time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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Three airmen pose with awarded knives on stage.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Levi Rodney, 375th Operational Support Squadron, Staff Sgt. Dustin Hibler, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Airman 1st Class Faith Akenga, 375th Comptroller Squadron, pose for a photo after being named Warriors of the Year, during Wing Readiness Day on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. They were awarded knives fashioned after World War I bolo knives produced in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1918. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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5 airmen pose for photo with awarded historical propeller.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

Airmen from the 375th Wing Staff Agency pose after winning the Warrior Challenge at Wing Readiness Day on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Warrior Challenge was a set of tests for teams to incorporate Multi Ready Airman objectives while creating an opportunity for scenarios to measure decision making processes, situation assessments as well as quick, effective resolution application. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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A squadron of airmen pose for photo on a stage.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

Airmen from the 375th Force Support Squadron, 375th Operations Group and 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, pose for a photo with the Squadron Cup during the Warrior Challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. Graded on time and multiple readiness components throughout the day for the Squadron Cup, the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron took first place, with the 375th Force Support Squadron and 375th Operations Group tying for second place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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An airmen strikes a man in a red padded suit during an exercise challenge.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caleb Polk, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron wing mobility non-commissioned officer in charge, strikes a Red Man with a padded pugil stick during the Rifle Fighting and Combatives challenge on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. The Rifle Fighting and Combatives challenge provided a holistic evaluation of the Airmen’s readiness and combat capabilities by navigating through physically demanding challenges to hone their endurance, agility, and combat effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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5 airmen look at papers while participating in a readiness day activity.

375th ‘Delivers Victory’ with new Warrior Challenge competition

Airmen from the 458th Airlift Squadron, 54th Airlift Squadron and 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, conduct a SALUTE report during the Agile Combat Employment Leadership Reaction Course for the Squadron Cup on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, May 9, 2024. A team building exercise, Airmen utilized their Ready Airman Training to excel at the ACE Leadership Reaction Course and its individual components in rapid time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams)

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He also wanted to make the Warrior Challenge portion mean something special for the winners so he chose to align the effort with the 155th Aero Squadron that trained here in 1917 “becoming the most advanced, most ready squadron the Air Corps had ever produced up until that point,” he said. They were the first night-bomber squadron in the entire Air Corps. After deploying to Europe, they arrived at the front lines on Nov. 10, 1918, the day before the armistice was signed.

“So, the most ready, most lethal warriors never flew a combat mission and were disbanded to become a ghost squadron, never to be resurrected in our Air Force history … until today,” said Poole. “If you earned the patch, you are now a member of the 155th Aero Squadron, a member of this ghost squadron. If you are called upon to go to war, you will take them with you as warriors ready to fly and fight again.”

The 155th AS had a signature black arrowhead patch, and all Warrior Challenge teams were presented with one upon completion, and are authorized to wear it on their uniform to honor the significance of their achievements. As Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Andrews, 375th AMW Command Chief, said, “these were earned, not given.”

The top three teams–Wing Staff Agency, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and the 375th Operations Support Squadron, also earned a “Deliver Victory” banner to go above the patch, signaling the vision of the 375th “Flagship Wing” to Deliver Victory. 

The top three teams were asked to name their “MVP” and those recipients earned an engraved 1917 U.S. model Bolo Knife with Scabbard. These knives were truly a “multi-capable” instrument that could clear brush or be used for any tasks that required a chopper, and were manufactured in St. Louis.

The winning team–WSA–will also have its name inscribed on a WWI-era propeller replica that will hang in the wing headquarters building.

Tech. Sgt. Brett Erklenz from the winning WSA team said “it was the most fun I’ve had at work my whole career I think!” He said they had been training for months physically with week rucks around the base and then on the wing readiness days, focused on all the other areas of expertise they would need to fine tune.

“This event was just so incredible in many ways,” he said. “Because we trained for several months prior to this, we got to learn about each other and our strengths … and how best to use that. For instance, our MVP was Airman 1st Class Faith Akenga, who even after we finished this grueling challenge, seemed to have even more energy and was fired up! She was our pacesetter after we found out she would run 15 miles or more if she was bored. We all really stuck together and she set the tone–pushing the pace consistently, and she has the heart of a warrior. The event also allowed us to do the work that we see our peers doing, such as AE or LRS. For a group of folks who normally are at a desk job, we had a blast getting to load cargo, shoot at targets and practice other combat skills. We had a great time!” 

Along with Erklenz and Akenga, other members of the winning WSA team were Tech. Sgts. Patrick Wyatt and John MacDonald, and 2nd Lt. Patrick Sauser.  Their team alternate who trained along with them and scorekeeper was Airman 1st Class Caleb Longstreth.

The commander added his thanks to his two project leads: Master Sgts. Brent Langdon and Myles Hoffman, the medics, safety, the chapel staff and St. Clair County for water and snacks, and to all committee leads as well as all volunteers who helped put this event together. Now that the event has broken ground and proved its effectiveness, he said he’s looking forward to October when they will repeat the event to continue shaping today’s combat ready warriors.

Award Winners

Squadron Cup
Overall Winners: 375th Civil Engineer Squadron

Tie for 2nd: 375th Force Support Squadron and 375th Operations Group

 

Squadron Cup Individual Events
1st in ACE Leadership Reaction course - CE

1st in Rifle Fighting & Combatives - FSS

1st in Radio School Field Exercise - OG

1st in Marine Combat Fitness - CE

 

Warrior Challenge

Top 3 Teams and their MVPs

1. WSA - Airman 1st Class Faith Akenga

2.  AE - Staff Sgt. Dustin Hibler

3.  OSS (and fastest overall) -  Master Sgt. Levi Rodney 

 

Individual Events

1st in TCCC - CE

1st in AM2 - AE

1st in AE - AE

1st in Pallet - OSS

1st in Shoot house - SFS