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Gunga Din inspires teamwork

17th Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 03:08PM May 2nd, 2013
Gunga Din inspires teamwork

Photo by Sgt. Justin Naylor

Soldiers of Team 102 jump over an obstacle April 18 during the Gunga Din competition hosted by 308th BSB, 17th Fires Bde. The Gunga Din tested Soldiers physically and mentally with a 12-mile ruck march, an obstacle course, a stress shoot and other events.

“Oh, snap,” was Pfc. Devandra Love’s first thought when she learned she would compete in the Gunga Din competition. Soldiers who participated the year before shared nothing but horror stories. At 107 pounds, she doubted she could meet the physical challenges ahead. She only knew one thing: Four of her fellow Soldiers would suffer with her.

With 12 miles of ruck marching, an obstacle course, a stress fire shoot and more, the Gunga Din, hosted April 18 by 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, challenged Soldiers physically and mentally while encouraging teamwork.

For Love and fellow members of Team 102, the day was hard, but rewarding.

“Working with them today, I know the people on my team’s limits now, so I feel a little bit closer to them,” said Love, a retransmission operator with 308th BSB.

Teammates helped one another over obstacles, encouraged each other during the ruck march and shared advice before the stress shoot.

“Being out here with them, I was surprised by how well they did,” said Spc. Cory Cape, also a retransmission operator with 308th BSB.

Eighteen, five-person teams and 22 individual participants competed.

The goal of the competition is to develop resiliency in junior Soldiers and leaders, while providing a sense of accomplishment through teamwork, said Lt. Col. Gary Spearow, 308th BSB commander.

The name of the competition originates from an 1892 poem by Rudyard Kipling where a mistreated servant, known as Gunga Din, sacrifices his life to save his master.

Spearow said the competition honors Gunga Din’s selfless service and reflects the spirit of his battalion whose mission is to provide support services to other units in 17th Fires Bde.

Of all the events in the competition, Team 102 agreed they dreaded the ruck march most, but they used it as a chance to overcome individual weaknesses as a team.

“When I saw someone falling back or struggling, I did try to motivate them, and that in turn motivated me,” Love said. “Telling them ‘Hey, we only have this much to go,’ that helped me a lot.”

For Spc. Anita Bazan, who gave birth eight months before Gunga Din, teamwork was the difference between success and failure during the ruck march.

“When I thought about stopping or slowing down they were like ‘No, you have to keep going,” said Bazan, a 308th BSB training room clerk. Leading up to the competition, she doubted she would finish. She said her teammates kept her going.

“I knew they were going to stick with me,” she said.

Although grueling, Gunga Din provided Soldiers insight into their coworkers.

“I learned that the people on my team can keep going,” Cape said. “I feel like I can rely on them more, knowing that they can keep up.” Team 102 placed 17th, but win or not, they finished the competition together.