FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — On Friday, 10th Mountain Division soldiers were awarded for “Owning their Environment.”
This was following the conclusion of the Division’s annual D-Series Winter Challenge which took place on January 18 and January 19 across the Fort Drum installation.
Squads were graded on timing and performance. The Division’s 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry’s Commanche Company Squad officially took the win.
Winning members of the team included Staff Sergeant Michael Lowe, Sergeant Eli Roeske, Sergeant Tyler Hansford, Specialist Isaac Kirk, Specialist Alex Folz, Specialist Mark Whitney, Specialist Ellis Owen, Private Second Class Jaden Pringnitz and Private Second Class Tanner Rich.
SPC Alex Folz said it was all about teamwork.
“Throughout the entire D-Series, we just put our heads together to decide who was best for each station,” SPC Folz explained. “We just worked through it.”
The D-Series challenged over 500, nine-Soldier teams to complete Army infantry tasks throughout a nine-mile ruck march. These tasks included a stress shoot, medically treating a hypothermic casualty, installing tire chains on a military vehicle, a ski challenge, knot tying, rappelling, a weapons station, employing Ahkio sleds and a history test on the D-Series.
“We had a couple of tough times going through some real thick slush,” Folz added. “Wasn’t great on the feet getting wet and such, but we toughed it out.”
The 2-87 Commanche Team took second place in the 10th Mountain Division’s D-Series in 2021, which had everyone excited about the win.
“Every single time we had inclement weather, they were out in it,” 2-87 Captain Laquon Brown said. “Practicing their trade, from skiing and snowshoeing to repelling.”
As the winning team, the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment squad was granted a trip to Camp Hale, Colorado, where they will tour the facility in the near future. The team will also train in the mountains.
To add to the excitement, this win was a “full-circle” moment for the soldiers as the 87th Infantry Regiment was founded in Camp Hale, Colorado after the American entry in World War II in 1942
The original D-Series was conducted in Camp Hale in 1944 to train soldiers for combat in the mountains of Italy.
“There’s nothing like getting back to where you were founded,” CPT Brown shared. “Your roots, where your unit came from, understanding what our predecessors went through in that area and how we get better as a whole, doing those tasks at hand.”
And as this year’s D-Series came to and end, 10th Mountain Division Commanding General Major General Gregory Anderson commended all participants.
He said successful training exercises like this will help the Division “climb to the top.”
“Training infantry units has always been hard, it will always be hard,” MG Anderson stated. “Infantry gets out into the elements, into the environment and you have to learn to overcome it. Whether you’re in 1943 or here in 2023, this is how you train to win in combat.”