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308th Brigade Support Battalion celebrates its tradition and history

17th Field Artillery Brigade

Published: 12:45PM August 7th, 2014

Soldiers of the 308th Brigade Support Battalion celebrated their unit’s 71st birthday with a physically demanding celebration — the third annual Gunga Din Competition, Aug. 1.

The competition represented the sacrifices and hard work of the dedicated professionals assigned to 308th BSB. The 308th BSB “Red Lions” support logistical operations across the 17th Field Artillery Brigade.The 308th BSB was constituted Feb. 23, 1943, in the U.S. Army as the 308th Quartermaster Sterilization Battalion and activated on 26 April 1943 at Vancouver Barracks, Washington.

The Gunga Din Competition was named after a poem written from the point of view of an English Soldier about an Indian water-bearer who saves the Soldier's life but is shot and killed. In the final three lines, the Soldier regrets the abuse that he dealt to “Din” and admits that “Din” was the better man of the two for sacrificing his own life to save another.

Soldiers began the day with a briefing from Lt. Col. Daniel Ellinger, the battalion commander. They weighed their rucksacks to make sure they were not less than 50 pounds, and the competition was kicked off by the Soldiers stepping onto the course as teams.

The goal was to be the first team to negotiate all obstacles along the route. The teams reacted to mock gas attacks along the course by dawning their gas masks and continuing the march to a number of physically demanding obstacles that included reacting to injuries, climbing ropes and pushing military vehicles. The teams averaged three to four hours to complete the rigorous, team-building course.

The unit was redesignated June 15, 2005, as the 308th Support Battalion and activated July 18, 2007, at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord. There it became the brigade support battalion for the reorganized and re-designated modular 17th Fires Brigade, now the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, as an element of I Corps.

This is the third year the 308th BSB celebrated its birthday by having its Soldiers compete in the Gunga Din Competition.