THE GONZALES CUP COMPETITION TESTS SOLDIERS
19th Regiment Wins Cup Second Year In A Row
Story by CPT Esperanza Meza, 19th Regiment PAO, and CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment PAO
STEPHENVILLE, Texas--The Texas State Guard (TXSG) held the second annual team and individual competition which tested the skills and endurance of twenty-one of the finest TXSG soldiers. The competition was held at different venues in Stephenville and Erath County, Texas, from April 11-12, 2014. The National Guard Armory in Stephenville served as the base for the competition and as billeting for the soldiers.
Teams from the 4th Regiment, 8th Regiment, and 19th Regiment took up the challenge. The team from the 4th Regiment included SSG Gary Harvel, SSG Dennis Burks, CPL Joe Ringnald, CPL Justin Carter, SPC Stephen Walton and PFC David Anderson. The team from the 8th Regiment included SSG William Clark, SGT Johnathan Jones, SGT Robert Wilson, PFC Robert Davis, PFC Thomas Hall, PFC Nicholas Lawrence, and PFC Shane Haygood. The team from the 19th Regiment included OC David Park, SGT Kenneth Clayton, SGT Sean Mounger, CPL Brian Nail, CPL Jonathan Kelley, PFC Jonathan Turner, and two alternates, CPL Nick Sanders and SPC Christopher Parrish who competed for individual honors.
The competition tested six skill sets. Four events were held on Friday, April 11, 2014. At the Tarleton State University Track and Field Course, in Stephenville, Texas, the physical fitness test challenged each soldier to complete as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible in 2 minutes followed by a mile run. CPL Joe Ringnald, 4th Regiment, considered the physical fitness challenge very important. “Physical fitness never stops. It is the way we should live every day.”
The second competition was the 9mm pistol marksmanship held at the Tac Pro Shooting Range in Erath County. Team members shot targets 75-feet away in the standing, kneeling, crouching and prone positions to achieve the highest total team score.
The third competition was Land Navigation at the Tarleton State University Hunewell Ranch, in Erath County. In teams of two, soldiers had to locate as many of the thirty-nine markers hidden in the wild brush and mesquite trees as possible using maps, protractors, and compasses within a 2 ½ hour time limit. Each marker was worth from 5 to 15 points. SSG William Clark, team leader of the 8th Regiment team, stated that the competition “was excellent and challenging. The competition is of value to the NCOs for team cohesion and to help the next crop of junior enlisted to be trained and efficient leaders.” SGT Sean Mounger, 19th Regiment, agreed. “It was well organized and quite challenging and relevant to the training.”
The fourth competition was at the Tarleton State University Challenge Course. The three challenges required teamwork and team strategy to succeed and to complete each challenge successfully without penalties in the fastest time possible. The ropes challenge required each team to pass each soldier through the “Human Sensor Web, which looked like a spider web made of rope. Another course challenge was the “Acid Crossing” which required each team to build a bridge, using only three 2”x8”x8’ boards to connect together five 12-inch poles buried in the ground. As the bridge was built, each team had to cross from pole to pole on the 2” side of the board. If a soldier fell off, he had to start at the beginning of the bridge and the team received a penalty. The final challenge was the 15-foot high “Perimeter Breach” wall which required each team to lift up the first soldier who then reached up to grab the top of wall and pull himself to the top of the wall. While the remaining team members hoisted the second soldier, he then pulled the next soldier to the top. When the third soldier got to the top, the first soldier left the top of the wall and was not allowed to help hoist others. This test continued until only one soldier was to be pulled up by a rope without any other soldiers to hoist him up. 4th Regiment team leader SSG Gary Harvel believed that the competition was “all about team building.” SGT Robert Wilson, 8th Regiment, thought the challenge course was “awesome.”
Observing the competition, BG Jake Betty, TXSG Army Component Commander, was pleased with the performance of the soldiers. “The events went very well. I was impressed with the level of enthusiasm of the individuals and teams in their dedication and performance. This event helped build unit esprit de corps, allowing individual soldiers skills and confidence to be tested to be state guard ready.”
On Saturday, April 12, at the National Guard Armory in Stephenville, the final competition was Life Saving Skills. The Gulf Coast Medical Response Group, who designed the life saving competition, traveled to Stephenville to conduct the tests which would determine the proficiency of each soldier in three life saving skills. Each soldier administered first aid to an unresponsive and unconscious mock victim using CPR and an Automated External Defibrillator, treated a broken arm using splints and bandages, and treated a mock victim for shock and a bleeding arm wound by applying a pressure bandage. The members of the Gulf Coast Medical Response Group were 1LT Colin Adams, SGT Michael Poland, and PFC Wesley Willoughby. MAJ James Vretis, TXSG Army Component Staff Surgeon, commented that this challenge was “a clear way to evaluate the training for life saving intervention.”
The final life-saving competition was a wounded casualty extraction which required each team to carry a 200-pound dummy in a skid stretcher over a ½ mile course with trees and a shallow gulley as obstacles in the fastest time possible. SPC Stephen Walton, 4th Regiment, viewed the challenge as “learning to trust your teammates to finish a task successfully.”
Once the points were totaled for individuals and teams, BG Betty announced the winners. The top three individual soldiers were 1st place winner OC David Park, 2nd place winner CPL Jonathan Kelly, and 3rd place winner SGT Kenneth Clayton, all from the 19th Regiment. The 19th Regiment won the team competition and was awarded the coveted Gonzales Cup for the second time. “It was a great event as it brings out the best in people and makes them stronger, win or lose. Morale was great and it was competitive,” stated COL Robert Hastings, 19th Regiment commander. “The event’s values to the TXSG were composed of two things, morale and communication and skills testing that improve training.” COL Howard Palmer, Jr., 4th Regiment Commander, stated that he was “very proud of all the soldiers in the competition. They demonstrated great esprit d’corps and teamwork.” “The spirit, resilience, and competitiveness of each soldier” he continued, “speaks to the energy and determination of each team to put forth their very best effort to win the Gonzales Cup.” 19th Regiment OC Park, who will be graduating in May from the TXSG Officer Candidate School at Camp Mabry, commented that “this would be the last time for me to be one of the guys and I found every event a challenge.” "In experiencing missions from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and other deployments," SGT Mounger, 19th Regiment, who has over 11 years of service with the TXSG, stated "this training is valuable and relevant to what we do.” CPL Brian Nail, 19th Regiment, "this event was very well organized and time efficient.”
General Betty thanked the troops and commands for their dedication and service. LTC Pedro Barreda commented that the "most important thing about the Gonzales Cup is that it give soldiers a chance to win."
The success of the Gonzales Cup competition depended on many individuals, including Army Component Command (ACC) Chief of Staff COL Paul Watkins, ACC Operations and Training Officer LTC Pedro Barreda, ACC Assistant Operations Officer CPT Jan Petreczko, 19th Regiment Operations and Training Officer MAJ Wendell Sadler, 4th Regiment Executive Officer and Operations and Training Officer LTC Lloyd Lietz, 4th Regiment Operations and Training NCO SFC Richard Schilling, 19th Regiment Logistics and training coach NCO SFC Admir Pasalic, 19th Regiment Communications NCO SSG Donald Sheffield, and 19th Regiment training coach MSG Mark Sligar.
The Gonzales Cup represents the courage, strength, and skill that the defenders of Gonzales, Texas, demonstrated while resisting the attack of the Mexican Army during the Texas Revolution in 1835. The Gonzales Cup is engraved with the words "Come and Take It" found on the flag made by the people of Gonzales during the fight.