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Intelligence soldiers win Joshua Mills Commando Competition for second straight year

Soldiers of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, climb up a net rope as part of a timed team event for the Joshua Mills Competition at Fort Bliss on September 7, 2017.

THANH L. PHAM/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

By DAVID BURGE | The El Paso Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 19, 2017

For the second straight year, members of the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Reconnaissance) pulled together as a team and won a postwide commando competition.

Six members of the battalion combined to take top honors at the recent Staff Sgt. Joshua Mills Commando Competition at Fort Bliss.

“We all came together and worked very cohesively,” said Capt. Joshua Hicks, a 28-year-old from Tacoma, Wash., who served as the team captain.

“We all had our strengths and weaknesses,” Hicks said. “We all stepped up and took time being a leader. It wasn’t just me because I had the highest rank.”

“We all knew our strengths and weaknesses and put aside our egos to let the team as a whole succeed,” Hicks said.

Soldiers from the 204th MI beat six other teams and became the first repeat winner in the four-year history of the event.

Hicks and Spc. Ian Inman, a 23-year-old from Red Bluff, Calif., were the only two team members who competed both years. Two others from last year have changed duty stations, while two are still in the battalion but are deployed.

The competition honors the memory of Mills, an El Pasoan and Special Forces soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Mills was serving with the 7th Special Forces Group, then headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Inman called it “an amazing experience” to be able to be on the winning team for the second straight year.

He credited Hicks with putting the team together and spearheading it. Inman had just returned from a deployment shortly before the competition.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without (Hicks) taking the time to do this,” Inman said.

“If anyone of us had slacked at any point of this competition, it would have cost us,” Inman said. “We had some extremely good teams we went up against, and they were challenging us and pushing us to the limit.”

Competitors went through a series of mental and physical challenges over two days.

They did an upper-body round robin, which was designed to test their upper-body strength and fitness. The round robin included the bench press, dips, pullups, situps, pushups and other tests.

They also went through Fort Bliss’ Leader Reaction Course — an obstacle course that puts a premium on teamwork and communication — and then tested themselves on the Air Assault Obstacle Course, doing both the outer and inner loops.

In addition, they did a 3-mile ruck march in which they had to do different tasks such as carrying a 5-gallon water jug and a 10-foot-long log.

Inman said it got progressively hotter and hotter the day they did the obstacle courses, making it a tough experience.

Spc. Henry Oji, a 31-year-old from Hayward, Calif., said it was gratifying to put it all together as a team and win.

Hicks took command of the battalion’s Bravo Company shortly before the competition, while others on the team had different tasks and duties to tackle, too. So, they often had to train on their own, Oji said.

Staff Sgt. Wilkie Pietri, a 30-year-old from San Juan, Puerto Rico, said everyone on the team contributed in different ways — whether it was ideas or physical or mental strength.

“That definitely helped out the team to take home the win,” Pietri said.

Other team members were: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Hattie, 31, from Dexter, Mich.; and Pfc. Rolando Medrano, 25, from Lafayette, Colo.

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©2017 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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