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Cadre members try to confuse a team of airmen (in the Kevlar helmets) during the memory event of the defender challenge combat course last week. Teams also competed in a low crawl, M-16 rifle assembly, grenade toss and a litter carry.

Cadre members try to confuse a team of airmen (in the Kevlar helmets) during the memory event of the defender challenge combat course last week. Teams also competed in a low crawl, M-16 rifle assembly, grenade toss and a litter carry. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Cadre members try to confuse a team of airmen (in the Kevlar helmets) during the memory event of the defender challenge combat course last week. Teams also competed in a low crawl, M-16 rifle assembly, grenade toss and a litter carry.

Cadre members try to confuse a team of airmen (in the Kevlar helmets) during the memory event of the defender challenge combat course last week. Teams also competed in a low crawl, M-16 rifle assembly, grenade toss and a litter carry. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airman 1st Class Franklin Irvin, right, of the 48th SFS, receives an earful of encouragement from cadre member Airman 1st Class Jamie Clinard.

Airman 1st Class Franklin Irvin, right, of the 48th SFS, receives an earful of encouragement from cadre member Airman 1st Class Jamie Clinard. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airman 1st Class Kevin Butterworth, of the 48th Security Forces Squadron, releases a mock hand grenade.

Airman 1st Class Kevin Butterworth, of the 48th Security Forces Squadron, releases a mock hand grenade. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airman Robert Schaak, a member of the 48th SFS, grinds his Kevlar helmet across a field during the low-crawl event of the defender challenge combat course.

Airman Robert Schaak, a member of the 48th SFS, grinds his Kevlar helmet across a field during the low-crawl event of the defender challenge combat course. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airman 1st Class Daniel Mancias, far left, screams as his team — made up of 48th Security Forces Squadron airmen — finishes the defender challenge combat course. Airman 1st Classes Josh Long and Bryan Gardiner are Mancias' teammates.

Airman 1st Class Daniel Mancias, far left, screams as his team — made up of 48th Security Forces Squadron airmen — finishes the defender challenge combat course. Airman 1st Classes Josh Long and Bryan Gardiner are Mancias' teammates. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH — At the bang of a starter pistol, teams of airmen raced in the low-crawl position, scraping their Kevlar helmets against a grass field at Lakenheath High School.

The sound of machine-gun fire opened up from loudspeakers as cadre members quickly swarmed the teams of three competing last week in the defender challenge combat course sponsored by the 48th Security Forces Squadron.

Besides the low crawl, the course consisted of a M-16 rifle assembly, grenade toss, memory test and a litter carry.

Throughout the course, words of “encouragement” were hollered out by cadre members. The competitors said the screams sounded more like harassment.

While carrying a litter, Airman 1st Class Franklin Irvin, a member of the 48th SFS, caught an earful from cadre members who were trying to re-create the confusion and chaos of combat.

“I wasn’t bothered by the machine-gun fire,” he said but a challenging part was “having to listen to people yell at you.”

The 20-year-old from Citrus County, Fla., came out to the event to represent Charlie Flight.

“We’re the only three out here,” he said of his team.

Thirteen teams faced the challenge as part of the base’s week of events in honor of National Police Week, which commemorates fallen police officers every year.

Airmen 1st Class David Babcock and Marcus Macon and Airman Robert Schaak, all from Alpha Flight, won the challenge with a time of 2 minutes and 54 seconds.

“I came. I saw. I conquered,” Schaak said jokingly.

The 20-year-old from Waukesha, Wis., knew he had a good team coming into the event, but the course turned out to be a lot harder than he expected.

“It tests your stamina and your ability to act under pressure,” he said.

Tech. Sgt. Ben Rushford, a training instructor for the 48th SFS, said that apart from being a challenge, the course was an enjoyable experience for the airmen.

“It was a blast. It didn’t matter if you came in first or last place. Everybody had a good time as far as I could tell,” said the 29-year-old from Mohawk Valley, N.Y.

Teams from civil engineering, contracting and medical units also took part in the event.

Other National Police Week events on base included a memorial retreat ceremony; a display of weapons, vehicles and a canine unit; and a five-kilometer road march with random ambushes that kept airmen on their toes.

The top three

1st place: Airmen 1st Class David Babcock and Marcus Macon and Airman Robert Schaak from Alpha Flight, 48th Security Forces Squadron. 2 minutes and 54 seconds.

2nd place: Senior Airman Alicia Hyzer, Airmen 1st Class Michael Morin and Jeremiah Moore from the 48th Civil Engineering Squadron. 3 minutes and 6 seconds.

3rd place: Airmen 1st Class Deante Shoemaker, Eric Klingensmith and Bryce Whitmore from Bravo Flight, 48th SFS. 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

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