Cadets from Around the Globe Square Off at 2016 Sandhurst Competition

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During the second day of competition at the 2016 Sandhurst competition, April 9, 2016, Cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., carry simulated casualties and their gear 560 meters at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) station. In all 60 teams of cadets from 13 different countries participated in this year’s Sandhurst competition. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton, 108th Training Command (IET), Public Affairs

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Rain subsided, the temperature plummeted and jubilation turned to determination as teams of Military Cadets made their way to historic Washington Hall for the start of the 2016 Sandhurst competition held on the United States Military Academy campus at West Point, New York, April 8-9.

What started in 1967 as a friendly challenge between the Army’s Corps of Cadets and those from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst located in Camberley, United Kingdom for a British Officer’s sword, has blossomed into a 60 team, multinational match of whit, skill and endurance that stretched nearly 35 miles over 36 hours.

“It’s been a bit taxing so far,” joked Officer Cadet Perry Jolly of the United Kingdom, on a training day prior to the competition. “I think we’ll win.”

Jolly, a British Cadet from one of 13 international teams, joined his counterparts from as near as Canada and as far as China in this year’s quest for International bragging rights. Almost all of those making their first visits to the United States.

“I am excited to compete, but I’m also looking forward to getting it done. This is my first time ever off the European continent and I’m staying for a couple of weeks afterwards just to enjoy myself,” he said.

This year’s competition boasts 13 different stations through the rugged terrain of the Hudson River Valley surrounding West Point. Those stations included functional fitness, small arms qualification, react to contact and more. For most this was their first taste of infantry tactics but for some it was an opportunity to build upon the trials and tribulations of years past.

“There are a couple of us on the team that had the…so called…luxury of competing in last year’s contest and it was a lot more squad patrol based than what I expected,” said Cadet Zachary Delph of Michigan State University.

MSU is one of eight teams from Cadet Command’s Reserve Officer Training Corps who are competing in Sandhurst and on a year where the ROTC program turns 100, there was a lot of anticipation over what this year’s contest might bring.

Cadets from the University of Delaware’s Reserve Officer Training Corps move a howitzer, water cans and ammo boxes at the eleventh and final station, the gun run, on the final day of competition at the 2016 Sandhurst competition held at West Point, N.Y., April 9, 2016. In all, 60 teams of cadets from military academies in 13 countries traveled 35 miles through the Hudson Valley over 36 hours during the annual event that began in 1967. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton, 108th Training Command (IET), Public Affairs

Delph, who experienced a grueling casualty carry up the muddy ski slopes of West Point last year, battle buddy and gear in tow, had only good things to say about the challenge.

“That was sadistic,” he said. “It about killed me!”

“Emotionally, last year was pretty tough but this is definitely a team building exercise and it helped us come together for this go round. You’re physically and mentally tired and you get frustrated with your buddies but you learn to think like a leader. You shake it off and you move on,” he said.

This year marked a milestone for the trainers of the Army Reserve’s 104th Training Division (LT). For the first time in their storied history, they were not only tapped to facilitate the train-up prior to the competition but the actual competition itself.

“Usually we come out here, do the train up before the competition, and leave,” said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Wilburn, 3rd Bn., 304th Inf. Reg. (USMA), 104th Training Division (LT). “This year we are actually staying to help out with the actual competition. We finally get to see the end result of all our work.”

Sandhurst-Cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., paddle a zodiac inflatable boat to the turn-a-round point of the water crossing event during the 2016 Sandhurst competition, April 9, 2016. Competitors were required to paddle across a lake outside of Camp Buckner, grab a single piece of engineer tape, and then paddle back to the finish line. The competition originated in 1967 as a friendly match of skill and endurance between West Points Corps of Cadets and their counterparts at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. Overall the competition has expanded in both size and difficulty. What started as a 2-team competition in 1967 has expanded to 60 teams from 13 different countries. Each team of cadets is expected to log close to 35 miles over a 36 hour time frame with various squad level tasks thrown in along their route. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton, 108th Training Command (IET), Public Affairs

“I think that will help us going forward as trainers,” he added. “We can see our deficiencies and then work on what we need to do to better ourselves.”

For others with the 104th this year marks a first in other ways.

“I’ve been out here for the Cadet Summer Training mission but this is my first time at Sandhurst,” Sgt. 1st Class David Palczewski, 3rd Bn., 304th Inf. Reg. (USMA), 104th Training Division (LT), who is running the hand grenade train up.

“It’s been fun working with some of the international teams who are not familiar with our weapon systems like the hand grenades and M4 (carbine). It makes it more enjoyable you see people take an interest in what you are trying to teach them.”

Finishing where they started, at Washington Hall, one-by-one, teams of cadets completed the last of the 13 tasks, ran to the finish line and collapsed, grimacing in painful smiles with what they had accomplished.

The overall winner of this year’s competition was the Royal Military College of Canada. Team H-3 placed the best of the USMA teams and the University of Texas A&M finished first in the ROTC division.

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