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The Raider Challenge

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Raider Challenge is an extra curricular activity for Junior ROTC Cadets that promotes physical fitness as well as responsibility and accountability to a team. 
    Schools around the region host them, usually in the fall so the local unit decided to offer a late winter event at the National D-Day Memorial for those that are interested.  Teams consist of eight or nine Cadets. 
    Raider Challenge varies slightly depending on where you are located but in this region events are usually some sort of individual fitness test, a group run, one or more obstacle course types of events where simulated casualties and/or supplies must be moved by the team from point A to point B, and finally what is probably the most favorite event a one rope bridge competition.
    This event was sponsored by the Bedford Science and Technology Center’s Army Junior ROTC Program.  Army Junior ROTC’s mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens.  One component of being a better citizen is being a fit and active citizen. 
    They had 10 teams (about 100 Cadets) from five schools signed up to compete.  Schools came from as close as Buckingham County, VA and as far away as Orange, VA.
    The competition began at 8 a.m. with a team five kilometer run.  Team must start and finish the run together.  Next up was a modified Army Physical Fitness Test consisting of one minute to complete as many push ups as possible, one minute of sit ups, and a timed one mile run. 
    Following that teams were released to rotate through four other timed events.  Team captains were allowed to determine the order of completion he or she thought  best for their teams. 
    There was a litter carry event where teams moved a simulated casualty through the woods on a stretcher.  Along the way they negotiated two wall type obstacles built by the BSTC Construction Class.
    There was a tire flip event.  Cadet teams had to flip a large tire on a prescribed route as quickly as they could without rolling the tire. 
    The Point du Hoc Challenge was an event named for key terrain on the beaches at Normandy France seized by the Ranger Battalion on D-Day.  It required teams to move equipment up hill on a prescribed route prepared by BSTC Custodial Staff.  Teams were presented with various items and eight empty back packs.  It was up to the team to distribute and configure the loads of the individuals and negotiate the hill. 
    Finally, the one rope bridge required teams to quickly stretch and precisely tie a rope between two poles 52 feet apart, pass team members across the bridge, and recover the rope.  A highly trained and efficient team can complete the process in the neighborhood of a minute and a half.
    Graders for these events were the Cadets of Liberty University Army ROTC program under the supervision of SFC Hutzenbiler.  Medical coverage was provided by BSTC Emergency Medical Technician Class under supervision of Jodi Shirey. 
    The final event was an awards presentation around 3 p.m.  Awards were presented to top three teams in each event as well as top scores in the individual physical fitness test.  Top team awards were  presented by the Bedford American Legion Post and top individual awards were preseneted by Colonel (Retired) John Miller the President of the Stonewall Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. 
    Those helping to make the event possible included the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, Bedford Science and Technology Center, The Bedford American Legion Post, The Association of the United States Army, The AMVETS (American Veterans), The Liberty University Army ROTC Department, and local Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers as well as Bedford Ready Mix and Bedford Electric Department who helped set the poles for the rope bridge. 
    The team with the highest fitness test scores was Buckingham, the fastest 5k team was Carroll, the one rope bridge competition was won by Buckingham, the litter carry was also won by Buckingham as was the Point du Hoc challenge, Orange County won the tire flip and the overall winner of the inaugural D-Day Memorial Raider Challenge Meet  was Buckingham, Carroll County was runner up, and Spotsylvania was third. 
    The Bedford Cadets did not compete last Saturday, they ensured that those who traveled here had a first rate experience.  The Bedford JROTC Cadets did the bulk of the planning, preparing, and the execution of the event.  On Monday, they took time in class to do some reflection on how the event could be even better next year.
 

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