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JBLM Chemical Soldiers earn belt buckels in rite of passage

Sgt. Ashley M. Outler Spc. Jarrod Gasiorowski, sample team collector, C Co., 110th Chem. Bn., steadies a board for his team.

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With sweat dripping from their dirty faces, a group of "Utmost" Soldiers from the 110th Chemical Battalion charged obstacles during the battalion's inaugural rite of passage event "Iron Dragon Fury," on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis North, July 31.

"This event shows Soldiers that they are capable of doing more than they think they can," B Co. 1st. Sgt. Marcus Foster said.

Thirteen 110th Chem. Bn. Soldiers and two cadets entered the groundbreaking Leader and Soldier Certification and, upon completion, earned honorary belts buckles signifying their status within the battalion.

"The infantry has the (Expert Infantry Badge) and cavalry scouts have their Spur Ride, so this is something for the chemical Soldier to say, ‘yeah, I was in 110th Chemical Battalion and I earned the belt buckle,'" Foster said.

Lieutenant Colonel Daryl Hood, battalion commander, 110th Chem. Bn., initiated the certification program to encourage Soldiers to exceed standards, challenge themselves and work as a team.

"Nobody wants a minimally prepared Soldier, so with this we can stress them to achieve greater," 110th Chemical Bn. Command Sgt. Maj. Victor B. Whitehorn, said.

The event started with a test of strength and endurance that included a weighted litter drag, heel-touches on a pull-up bar, and a one-mile run.

"Going into it, I didn't know how hard it was going to be," 1st Lt. Marc A. Duplon, an A Co. team leader, said. "There were times when I wanted to quit, but I couldn't because I want to finish everything that I start."

Participants started plotting coordinates, got into Mission Oriented Protective Posture Level 4 gear, and ruck-marched to various points to test soldier skills.

"The events were a combination of Army warrior tasks that reinforced basic soldier skills on top of (Chemical Response Team) skills that we use for our unique mission set," Forster said.

Soldiers finally faced obstacles on the Leadership Reaction Course - minefield crossing, evaluating a casualty, and crossing a dangerous area.

"They had a very short amount of time to think through the problem and come up with an adaptive solution," Whitehorn said. "They could not finish as an individual this had to be a team event."

Dirty, tired and drenched in sweat, they marched back to the battalion area, where they received certificates, battalion coins and honorary belt buckles.

"I feel great. I'm hurting, I'm tired, I'm sore, but I'm going straight to Wal-Mart right after this to get the belt to put my buckle on," Foster said.

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