Soldiers conduct 1st ‘Guardian’ Shield Ride
Story by: Spc. Cody Hudspeth, CAB
Officers and noncommissioned officers with the 601 Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division participated in the first Guardian Shield Ride Oct. 18 to 19 at Fort Riley.
The Shield Ride concept is based on the Airborne "Prop Blast" tradition and consisted of multiple events that tested the Soldiers' physical and mental toughness.
Events included the Cross-fit physical fitness challenge, obstacle course, night land navigation, 9mm marksmanship challenge, a tactical road march to link up with CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircraft for air movement operations and the Special Forces Obstacle course challenge.
The candidates had to complete every event in order to move on to the final stage, the board, consisting of previous Shield, Spur or Prop Blast qualified officers and senior NCOs. The Shield candidates had to answer questions based on unit and division history in order to pass the ride and earn their Shield from the battalion commander.
Lt. Col. Allan Lanceta, 601 ASB commander, said the purpose of the Guardian Shield Ride was to "build spirit de corps, pride and a tradition within the battalion and to mentally and physically challenge the leaders that participated through teambuilding events, and for them to realize that through team work, any task can be accomplished."
Capt. Nate Blackford, maintenance platoon leader, Company B, 601 ASB, said for his team, the most challenging event was the night land navigation.
"Obviously night land navigation can be tricky, and the terrain we were at over there in that portion of the installation is very aggressive," he said.
He also said during the land navigation, everyone was carrying 45- to 50-pound rucksacks for several hours through the night, which made the course more difficult for every person involved.
The challenges of the Shield Ride helped the groups understand and work with each other better as a team, said Sgt. Jesus Huerta, chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear NCO, Headquarters Support Company, 601 ASB.
"The best part was building camaraderie between our teams and just seeing how much heart the 601st (ASB) has," Huerta said.
For Huerta, the obstacle course helped his group work together the most because they had to motivate each other to climb over and maneuver through a variety of obstacles, he said.
Each group had a lane walker as a team leader who instructed the group on how to conduct each event safely and correctly.
The lane walkers were qualified personnel who had participated in similar events in previous units. This helped them understand the difficulties the teams were going through and motivate the participants to overcome any challenges they faced.
"I feel this type (of event) makes them work together, push through the suck and just builds a better team as a whole," said 1st Lt. Jerimiah Wood, future operations OIC, 601st ASB, and a lane walker for the Guardian Shield Ride.