LATHAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — New York National Guard troops are heading to South Africa, according to a press release from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Four National Guard soldiers and one airman will represent New York and the United States at the South African National Defence Force Military Skills Competition from October 23 to October 30.

The event involves an obstacle course, swimming obstacle course, eight-kilometer run, grenade throwing, range estimation contest and rifle and pistol shooting with standard South African weapons.

According to Command Sergeant Major Marc Maynard, who is the 2022 team coach, military personnel from around the world are invited to the annual competition.

In 2019, New York’s National Guard sent five soldiers and five airmen to participate in the competition.

Only five troops will compete this year due to a later-than-expected invitation and the 2,000 Army National Guard soldiers currently deployed overseas, according to Maynard.

The New York National Guard members participating this year include:

  • Army Command Sergeant Major Marc Maynard of Spencerport, NY, serves as the command sergeant major of the 53rd Troop Command
  • Army Captain Jacob Gazaway of Scotia, NY, assigned to the Headquarters Detachment of the 501st Ordnance Battalion
  • Army 1st Lieutenant Jimmy Tran of Montgomery, NY, serves in the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion
  • Army Sergeant 1st Class Andrew Guckian of Poughquag, NY, assigned to the New York National Guard’s Camp Smith Training Site
  • Air Force Master Sergeant Brandon Gilbert of Raleigh, NC, serves in the 107th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard

Maynard said that while they would have liked more time to prepare for the event, being able to take part in it makes it worth it. “The South Africans are a great host nation and very welcoming. They always put together a well-organized event,” Maynard said.