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NEWS | May 18, 2011

437 APS Airmen prepare for AMC Rodeo

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Six Airmen from the 437th Aerial Port Squadron completed a four-mile challenge course May 17, at Hunley Park on Joint Base Charleston in preparation for the Air Mobility Command Rodeo 2011 readiness competition.

The Rodeo, scheduled for July 23 to July 31 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., focuses on improving the worldwide air mobility forces' professional core abilities by challenging Airmen on their daily duties, physical capabilities, mental strength and camaraderie.

"All AMC Aerial Port Squadrons get together and compete to see which squadron can do their job the best, the fastest and most efficient," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Lumm, the 437 APS Rodeo team lead. "We are tested through six different challenges including a combat endurance obstacle course, a 10K forklift driving course, loading and unloading an aircraft, inspections and other areas of our job.

"The Rodeo helps improve our day-to-day procedures, boost team work and promotes esprit de corps. Since April we have practiced five times a week to ensure we are ready to compete."

The four mile challenge course, used to practice for the Rodeo, consisted of seven different strength training obstacles and began at the bottom of a hill.

The Airmen were dressed in their Airman Battle Uniforms and had gas mask carriers tied to their thighs. After running for more than a half mile uphill, the Airmen had to push a Humvee for more than 50 yards.

"Pushing the Hummer was my favorite obstacle," said Airman 1st Class Joseph Schlank, 437 APS Rodeo team member. "By working together as a team we can move the vehicle at an impressive speed."

After pushing the Humvee and continuing on their course, the Airmen had just seconds to don their gas masks. While wearing the masks the Airmen ran for more than a quarter mile and were breathing heavily.

"Running with the gas mask on is the hardest part of the course," Airman Schlank said. "I was glad when that was over, but we still had a lot of ground to cover."

Following the gas mask run, the Airmen ran to a spot where an improvised litter lay on the ground. Using the litter, they carried one of their team members for 25 yards.

"They are moving fast, but I trust them not to drop me," said Senior Airman Marvin Richardson, 437 APS Rodeo team member, while laying on top of the improvised litter.

At the next spot, about a quarter of a mile away, the Airmen had to carry 16 pieces dunnage, four-by-four rubber lumber, or "rumber" for more than 25 yards. Pallets are set on top of the dunnage to keep them leveled and off the ground.

"Each piece of rumber weighs just over 25 pounds and each member carried them two at a time to a new location," said Sergeant Lumm.

After carrying the rumber the Airmen ran back to the Hummer where a monster truck tire lay on the ground. Taking turns, the Airmen flipped over the tire to get it closer to the finish line 25 yards away.

Immediately following the tire flip the Airmen built a wooden pallet, simulating loading and tying down cargo and then headed back down the hill.

The final obstacle saw each Airmen carrying a five-gallon water jug for more than 25 yards. Once they put the jugs down on the ground they sprinted to the finish line.

"I'm exhausted," said Sergeant Lumm, breathing a bit heavy after crossing the finish. "But it's a good workout and it challenges us to stay physically fit and ready for the Rodeo.

"Tomorrow we will practice engines running on/offloads on a C-17, where we load and unload a Hummer, a trailer and a 10K forklift, to simulate being in a hostile location."

Even though the Rodeo is more than nine weeks away, Sergeant Lumm and his Rodeo team members plan to train until the day before their flight to McChord.

"We are representing our leadership, our squadron and all of Joint Base Charleston so we need to shine above the rest," Sergeant Lumm said. "We strive for 'excellence in all we do' and we want to bring home the trophy."