JROTC steps up to the ‘Workhorse Challenge’

Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Amy Parker, 201st Engineer Battalion Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

NOTE:  Each week kentuckyguard.com publishes stories by Kentucky National Guard unit public affairs historian representatives, also known as UPAHRs.  This is an additional duty taken on by a Soldier or Airmen with the intent of telling their unit’s story.  This is one such story ….

Spc. Josh Kee, 149th Vertical Engineer Construction Co., explains the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon to one of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets during the 'Workhorse Challenge' in Louisa, Ky., Sept. 17.

LOUISA, Ky.  (Sept. 18, 2011)– For over a decade the 201st Engineer Battalion has invited students from the Kentucky High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program to Eastern Kentucky for their annual “Workhorse Challenge.”

This year the 201st hosted more than 340 students from 14 different high school JROTC programs around Kentucky at Yatesville Lake in Louisa, Ky.

“This was originally a recruiting project,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Spencer, 201st Forward Support Company. “As the years have gone by though, we’ve developed a great relationship with so many people and it’s really turned into an opportunity to build our community.”

This event was a chance for several Kentucky high schools to challenge their JROTC cadets on a different level.

Students experienced some of the engineering and Soldier tasks that the 201st Engineer Battalion conducts during a normal training year in addition to training coordinated by the JROTC instructors.

Cadets work together to maneuver an obstacle with a stretcher on the Junior Cadets Leaders Course. Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets from across the state competed in the 201st Engineer Battalion's 'Workhorse Challenge' in Louisa, Ky. Sept. 17-18.

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Jim Sandlin, the Boyd County High School JROTC instructor,  loves bringing his cadets in for this competition each year.

“It’s truly a challenge for these JROTC students,” said Sandlin. “They know it’s 25 hours of non-stop action. You’re going from the minute you get there until the time you finish.”

The 201st Engineers set up event lanes which included a grenade throw, a physical fitness test (1 minute of push-ups and sit ups as well as a 1 mile run), a rope bridge water crossing,  pugil sticks, land navigation, first aid, and the Junior Cadets Leaders Course.  The school with the best time or score for each lane wins an award at the end of the Workhorse Challenge.

The school coming in at last place from each event also gets a spoof award.

The 201st Engineers have been organizing the Workhorse Challenge since 1998, with a brief hiatus around 2003 due to wartime deployments.

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