Setting recon standard at, Recon Challenge
By Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols, 1st Marine Division
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- With the sound of five-foot swells crashing on the San Onofre Shore, competitors in the 7th Annual Recon Challenge prepared themselves mentally for the day’s events. Service members from across the reconnaissance community came together aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 15, 2015, to honor their fallen brothers by competing in a series of challenges designed to push even a recon Marine.
This year’s competition saw competitors from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th reconnaissance battalions, 1st Force Recon, Reconnaissance Training Company, Marine Combat Diver School, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Systems Command and the 19th Special Forces Group. The 1st Marine Division alone contributed four of 22 two-man teams that competed in the competition, one pair, which would go on to win the competition.
The Marines from 1st Force Recon Company and 1st Recon Battalion competed in events that challenged their mental, physical and emotional fortitude, but for them the challenge meant a lot more than a year’s worth of bragging rights in the recon community, it meant honoring the recon Marines that have fallen.
Seeing the names of the fallen reconnaissance Marines on the back of the rucks is inspiring to all the competitors, said Gunnery Sgt. Zachary Holms, a platoon sergeant for 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and first time competitor in the Recon Challenge.
“The Recon Challenge is about keeping the brotherhood of the recon community alive by letting everyone know that the names of the fallen will never be forgotten and bringing the community to one location,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher May, a surveillance and reconnaissance specialist for Headquarters Marine Corps and veteran of the Recon Challenge.
The Recon Challenge pushed the competitors mental, physical, technical and tactical reconnaissance skill-sets.
After completing a 1 kilometer swim in the Pacific Ocean, the competitors would continue along the mountainous terrain that MCB Camp Pendleton had to offer and complete an obstacle course, weapon assembly/disassembly of various weapons systems, knowledge of different knots, two different events inside a pool and a live-fire shoot with an array of weapons ranging from the M9A1 pistol to the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System.
The Recon Challenge was designed to test the finest the recon community has to offer, May said.
“The Recon Challenge displays the standards that a reconnaissance Marine is expected to meet,” said Holms.
The Recon Challenge is open to not only Marines from the reconnaissance community but to reconnaissance Marines that currently serve with the Marine Special Operations Command, service members from our sister services and foreign competitors that have completed the proper training.
“We encourage not only young Marines to come out and compete but other branches and foreign military to come out and compete with us," said Master Sgt. Vincent Marzi, the operations chief for 1st Recon Bn.
With Marines from all over the Reconnaissance community in attendance, the competitors were pushed to set the standard of the title “Recon Marine.” But it was Master Sgt. David Jarvis and Capt. Patrick Zuber, both with 1st Recon Bn., which would win the competition. With a time of eight hours and 35 minutes, the two-man team set the standard for the recon community and brought the prize home to the 1st Marine Division.