Team 5, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with team members Capt. Jason Bahmer and Sgt. 1st Class David Rizo, were victorious in Fort Leonard Wood’s 10th Best Sapper Competition.
Bahmer and Rizo, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, brought their A-game to defeat the other 47 two-person teams that covered more than 50 miles in 50 hours as a part of the competition’s events, testing the soldiers’ physical and mental prowess.
“This is my second time competing; last year was my first,” Bahmer said.
Adding, “We’re just happy that we could compete. We’re glad to represent the 82nd Airborne Division and do so well.”
According to Rizo, he and Bahmer did a lot to prepare for the competition, which helped to reassure them about challenges they would face in competing.
“I was ecstatic. We put a lot into this for the train-up at our home station [at] Fort Bragg, so we were confident going into a lot of the events,” Rizo said.
He added, “When the standings were announced it was definitely a surprise overall.”
Coming from as far as Europe and as close as Missouri, the teams competed to be named the Army’s best Sapper team, but only one would take the trophy home.
“It was also awesome to see basically the best of our regiment throughout the Army; whether it was CONUS (contiguous United States) or OCONUS (outside the contiguous United States), we had guys from Hawaii and Italy fly in to compete in this event,” Rizo said.
He noted, “They truly were the epitome of an engineer; it was great to compete against them and see where we [stood] against the best.”
Placing second and third, respectively, were Team 13, Capt. William Whitfield and Capt. Michael McLaughlin, 3rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Hood, Texas, and Team 17, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Shay and 1st Sgt. Jose Casillas, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg.
In the U.S. Army, Sappers are combat engineers or other personnel who support the front-line infantry, and they have fought in every war in American history.
A Sapper may perform any of a variety of combat engineering duties to include bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defenses as well as road and airfield construction and repair.
Fort Leonard Wood