Teams compete for title of USAREUR’s best sappers

by Spc. David Huddleston
18th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs, 21st Theater Sustainment Command

BAMBERG, Germany — Combat engineers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 54th Engineer Battalion, 9th Engineer Battalion, and 243rd Construction Management Team tested their bodies and minds in U.S. Army Europe’s Best Sapper Competition, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, here.

Eight two-Soldier teams brought all their engineering skills and abilities to the competition with the solitary goal of advancing to the Army’s Best Sapper Competition in April in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

At the end of the competition, one team stood above the rest. First Lt. Marie Timm, a platoon leader with the 535th Engineer Support Company, 54th Eng. Bn., and her teammate, 1st Lt. Mende Wentzel, executive officer of the 343rd Construction Management Team, 18th Eng. Bde., won the right to represent USAREUR and attempt to earn the title of best sapper in the Army.

“The five-mile buddy run was the hardest event because we were smoked after the ruck march, we had not slept much or ate anything, but our team work pulled us through,” Timm said.

A sapper is a Soldier who performs a variety of military engineering duties such as bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defenses and general construction, as well as road and airfield construction and

They are also trained to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations.

“The opportunity to test ourselves, to come out here and stretch the body and mind to see what we can do brought me out here,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Janos, training officer with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Eng. Bn.

The competition tested Soldiers with a non-standard physical fitness test, unoccupied search with talon robot and urban breaching, a 40-question demolition exam, land navigation, a 10-kilometer round robin event, a 15-mile road march and a five-mile buddy run. They also conducted sapper stakes, which consisted of an in-stride breach, cutting charge calculations, reflexive fire, and individual weapon qualification.

“This event has tested us all around, it tested our spirit, it tested our physical abilities, our mental abilities and there was never a time when we were not challenged,” said 2nd Lt. Christopher Wagner, a platoon leader with the 541st Sapper Company, 54th Engineer Battalion.