EOD Soldiers shoot to top in competition
Spc. Thong Bouphavong, EOD specialist, 630th EOD Co., takes aim during a trap-shooting event as part of the 84th EOD Bn. NCO and Soldier of the Quarter competition Aug. 15 at Fort Riley. Photo by: Sgt. Dana Moen, 1ST SUST. BDE.
Story by: Sgt. Dana E. Moen
1ST SUST. BDE. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Seven Soldiers competed in the 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion's Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Quarter competition Aug. 15 at Fort Riley.
Staff Sgt. Hector Pena, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear sergeant, 172nd Chemical Company, and Spc. Benjamin McPherson, explosive ordnance disposal specialist, 630th EOD Company, won the 84th EOD Bn.'s NCO and Soldier of the Quarter competition. They are now eligible to compete for the 84th EOD Bn. NCO and Soldier of the Year to be in the spring.
"I was surprised how well I did on the board," said Pena, a Sgt. Audie Murphy Club member. "I got called two weeks before the competition."
Pena credits the 172nd Chem. Co. training program for his success in the competition's physical and battle tasks, especially their weekly road march. Seven categories were scored during the competition: Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, warrior tasks and battle drills, land navigation, a foot march, written exam and essay, and an evaluation board that counted for 50 percent of the maximum score. Trap shooting was a bonus event that the competitors were not told about in advance.
"One of the best parts of the competition was the mystery event," Pena said. "It was my first time shooting a shotgun."
Pena said trap shooting was completely different than any of the Army shooting he has done. He enjoyed it so much, he said he is planning to take his wife out on a weekend to break a few clay pigeons at the Fort Riley Skeet and Trap Range.
"We wanted to utilize the facilities that Fort Riley has to offer," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tamiko Bogad, 84th EOD Bn. "The Soldiers had a great time."
In addition to trap shooting, the Mission Training Center was used for the evaluation board, and the Warrior Zone was utilized for the awards ceremony, where the winners were announced.
"What's important is EOD and chemical Soldiers from different commands coming together in a challenging competition that fosters a sense of pride and camaraderie." said Lt. Col. Lawrence Cousins, 84th EOD Bn. commander.
Five other 84th EOD Bn. Soldiers competed in the event – Spc. Thong Bouphavong, EOD specialist, 630th EOD Co.; Staff Sgt. Sean Christen, EOD sergeant, 741st EOD Co.; Sgt. Sean Mattes, EOD sergeant, 763rd EOD Co.; Spc. Samuel McCracken, EOD specialist, 763rd EOD Co.; and Spc. Michael Schiele, CBRN specialist, 172nd Chem. Co.
The 84th EOD Bn. is a tenant unit at Fort Riley, and the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division provides its Soldiers with limited administrative support. The battalion falls under the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), 20th Support Command (CBRNE), which are located at Fort Carson, Colo., and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., respectively.