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2 JBLM soldiers place in the top at 2014 Best Ranger Competition

3-38th Cavalry Squadron represented at 31st anniversary of this grueling competition at Fort Benning

Staff Sgt. William Haney and Sgt. Brendon Wellendorf, C Company, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry (Long Range Surveillance) placed seventh out of 50 teams in this year’s Best Ranger Competition.

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The ticket is black and yellow and is two-and-three-eighths inches in length by eleven-sixteenths of an inch wide.

Those are the dimensions of the Ranger tab.

There are no dimensions to the willingness to face a challenge.

Earn the tab and a service member can compete in The 31st Best Ranger Competition.

That's the challenge.

Begun in 1982 by Dick Leandri to honor Lt. Gen. David Grange, the competition has evolved from saluting the best two-man buddy team in the Ranger Department at Ft. Benning, Calif. to determine the best two-man team from all branches - active duty, Reserve and Guard - in the U.S. military.

Staff Sgt. William Haney and Sgt. Brendon Wellendorf, C Company, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry (Long Range Surveillance) have the tab and faced the challenge.

"In a word, it's ‘grueling'," said Haney.

Rangers have a unique definition of the word "grueling."

The 62-hour timed event began with an eight mile run - soon to be followed by an obstacle course, followed by another run carrying full water cans, followed by a 600 meter swim (in ACUs and boots), followed by a six-mile ruck march (50 pounds in the ruck) followed by a stress shoot where the soldiers pull a 200-pound dummy between shooting points. ...

Followed by more physical and mental challenges. 

"That was just the start," Wellendorf added.

"The competition is one physical and mental challenge after another. Teamwork was crucial."

It only got tougher.

From the first day's night into the second day's dawn the competitors faced an 18-mile night road march.

Haney and Wellendorf - in full gear - would move for a mile or two, then have to carry a full water can for a mile or two, then move for a mile or two, then carry an ammunition can filled with sand a mile or two, and so on.

"Twenty of the fifty teams that began the competition dropped out during that part," Haney said. "That event was the toughest."

If the physical aspect of the competition didn't break one's spirit, then the mental aspect worked you over.

One challenge the two soldiers and friends faced was to take the parts of three different weapons - all mixed together in a box - and correctly reassemble them while wearing NODs, or night optical devices.

And don't forget, the stopwatch never stopped.

One wonders why these two soldiers wanted to do this.

Since the age of 15, Haney had wanted to compete in The Best Ranger Competition.  When presented with the opportunity to compete, he asked Wellendorf to join him.

"I like a challenge," Wellendorf said.

When Wellendorf was asked what he thought about being asked to compete, Haney interjected, "He had no idea what he had gotten into until that first day" as Wellendorf laughed. "Then it was real clear!"

All kidding aside, the two soldiers trained hard for eight weeks before traveling to Ft. Benning, Ga. to compete April 11-13.

The support of their chain of command, their hard work, sense of mission accomplishment and camaraderie paid off.

Haney and Wellendorf finished in seventh place of the 26 teams that finished.

"It's extremely rewarding," Wellendorf said.

"Do it!" Haney added.

If interested, the 32nd Best Ranger Competition begins in 350 days.

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