Sappers’ Leap

US Army Engineers Leap from Chinook into Lake

US Army, Best Sapper Competition, Fort Leaonard Wood, leaping out of Chinook 08-04-19 (Justin Stafford)[1180]

US Army, Best Sapper Competition, Fort Leaonard Wood, leaping out of Chinook 08-04-19 (Justin Stafford)

Forty-eight Sapper teams from across the Army’s Engineer Regiment will vie for the title of 2019 Best Sapper April 8-10 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in the 13th annual Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition.

Retired Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, the 86th Commandant of the U.S. Army Engineer School and 50th Chief of Engineers, returned to Fort Leonard Wood for the opening ceremony, along with the 2018 Best Sapper defending champions, from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who will be representing Team 1. Flowers, who played a key role in advocating for the authorized wear of the Sapper tab, provided motivational remarks for Sapper teams.

Flowers spoke about the Korean War Battle of Pusan Perimeter, urging competitors to keep in mind, “When the going gets tough and it gets hot, think about those Sappers who stayed there, fought it out and never quit.”

The U.S. Army Engineer School Commandant, Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle, welcomed Sapper Teams, who will travel 50 miles on foot in 50 hours, while completing engineer tasks throughout the physically and mentally demanding competition.

“You are already ahead of your peers just by being here,” Whittle said. “You stepped up and you’re willing to compete. This competition is going to test the bounds of your endurance. It’s going to test your capability to think under pressure.”

Whittle quoted the “Man in the Arena” from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “Citizenship in a Republic Speech,” saying, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … ”

“Sappers you are about to enter the arena,” Whittle said. “This competition will reveal and build your character. Over the next 50 hours you will find out who you really are and who your battle buddy really is. Stay motivated. Never quit.”

USAES Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Galick, added a message for Sapper Teams, “We’re here to see who’s best from among the teams sitting right here.”

“A few days from now when you don’t remember why you’re here, remember you’re here to finish every event,” Galick said. “You’re here to not quit. You’re here to take care of that Sapper on your left and right. You’re here to earn the right. The only way to earn the right is if you finish.”

Military Units Featured

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

United States Army Corps of Engineers

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command made up of some 37,000 civilian and military personnel, making it one of the world’s largest public engineering, design, and construction management agencies. U.S. Army Engineer units outside of USACE Districts fall under the Engineer Regiment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Army engineers include both combat engineers and support engineers more focused on construction and sustainment. The vast majority of military personnel in the United States Army Corps of Engineers serve in this Engineer Regiment. The Engineer Regiment is headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and is commanded by the Engineer Commandant, currently a position filled by an Army Brigadier General from the Engineer Branch.

Military Equipment Featured

CH-47 Chinook
US CH-47 Chinook schematic

US CH-47 Chinook schematic

The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter developed by American rotorcraft company Vertol and manufactured by Boeing Vertol (later known as Boeing Rotorcraft Systems). The CH-47 is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. Its name, Chinook, is from the Native American Chinook people of modern-day Washington state. The Chinook CH-47F has a maximum speed of 170 knots (196 mph, 315 km/h) and a range of 400 nmi (450 mi, 741 km), with a service ceiling of 20,000 ft (6,100 m). With a crew of three (pilot, copilot, flight engineer or loadmaster), the Chinook can carry up to 55 troops or a payload of 24,000 lb (10,886 kg).


U.S. Army Spc. Justin Stafford.