FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — It’s not uncommon for the 10th Mountain Division to train in extreme winter conditions.

But only a few soldiers took a frigid plunge to prove their abilities during the 10th Sustainment Brigade’s best sustainer of the quarter competition in early January 2023.

The competition challenges soldiers who hold sustainment positions across the Division with five events over two days. One of the events is the cold water immersion.

About 16 soldiers took the plunge in just their basic uniform as even air temperatures barely reached 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to 10th Sustainment Brigade’s Sergeant First Class Seth Toy, this is the second year this challenge has been included.

“Nobody wants to go into the cold water, but if you find yourself in it, you need to experience it and see that it is survivable at the individual level if you get yourself under control,” SFC Toy said.

Once soldiers jumped in the water, they were only allowed to get out once they answered a list of basic questions, such as their name in rank.

But before the event, the group of soldiers was briefed by Brigade leadership on survival skills and how to focus in frigid temperatures.

10th Sustainment Troops Battalion Second Lieutenant Xingang Li was the first soldier in the water. To him, 2LT Li said the challenge is all about leadership.

“I wanted to be the first one to do it because I wanted to tell people it’s not bad,” 2LT Li explained after he recovered from the cold water immersion. “They taught us how to breathe, so then we can survive.”

Although water temperatures were very low, morale was high as this was only one event in the sustainment competition. Additional events include an Army Combat Physical Fitness Test, land navigation, stress shoots and a performance board.

First Sergeant Victor Velez further explained how all these events embrace the standards of the 10th Mountain Division.

“The main thing is overall endurance and the ability to withstand the temperatures and the ability to operate under these cold weather conditions,” 1SG Velez said. “Being that we are the 10th Mountain Division, it’s part of the course for somebody stationed up here.”

“We are mountain tough,” 2LT Li added. “We have this opportunity. We train for the worst, so we’ll be ready whenever the mission is going to be.”

The Brigade will crown one junior enlisted soldier, one non-commissioned officer and one officer as winners. These three soldiers will then qualify for the 10th Mountain Division’s Soldier of the Year.

The quarterly competition will end on Wednesday, January 11, 2023.