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Flying Yankee Cops place 10th in Annual CT SWAT Challenge

The 2015 103rd Security Forces Squadron SWAT Challenge team poses for a group shot following a grueling challenge part of the annual CT SWAT Challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015.

The 2015 103rd Security Forces Squadron SWAT Challenge team poses for a group shot following a grueling challenge part of the annual CT SWAT Challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015.

Tech. Sgt. Ian McMahon belly crawls with the unit's guidon through the water tunnel obstacle during the annual competition, CT SWAT Challenge. Select members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron banded up to compete in the challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Tech. Sgt. Ian McMahon belly crawls with the unit's guidon through the water tunnel obstacle during the annual competition, CT SWAT Challenge. Select members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron banded up to compete in the challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Staff Sgt. Brian Davies assists Master Sgt. Susan Flannery as she shoots using night vision goggles and a targeting laser at the Enfield Department of Corrections indoor firing range Aug. 1, 2015.  (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Staff Sgt. Brian Davies assists Master Sgt. Susan Flannery as she shoots using night vision goggles and a targeting laser at the Enfield Department of Corrections indoor firing range Aug. 1, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

The 2015 103rd Security Forces Squadron SWAT Challenge team attack the first obstacle at the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., during the annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge in September. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

The 2015 103rd Security Forces Squadron SWAT Challenge team attack the first obstacle at the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., during the annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge in September. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hodges and Staff Sgt. Brian Davies are handcuffed to each other while having to dissemble and reassemble an M4 weapon, each using only their one free hand. Select members of the unit banded together to compete in the CT SWAT Challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hodges and Staff Sgt. Brian Davies are handcuffed to each other while having to dissemble and reassemble an M4 weapon, each using only their one free hand. Select members of the unit banded together to compete in the CT SWAT Challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Select members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron's CT SWAT Challenge team do group pushups as one of the many events of the challenge while team captain Staff Sgt. Michael Stearns looks on. The competitors banded up to compete in the challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

Select members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron's CT SWAT Challenge team do group pushups as one of the many events of the challenge while team captain Staff Sgt. Michael Stearns looks on. The competitors banded up to compete in the challenge at two venues, the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury and the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn., Sept. 17-21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Tech. Sgt. Jessica Roy)

MDC RESERVOIR, West Hartford, Conn. -- Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron banded up to compete in the CT SWAT Challenge once again. Set up began at the State Police Metacon Range in Simsbury Sept. 17, 2015, and concluded at the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford by Sept. 21, 2015.

The team of 11 included Senior Master Sgt. James Reynolds, Master Sgt. Richard Marks, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hodges, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Sixt, Tech. Sgt. Ian McMahon, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Jerolmon, Staff Sgt. Brian Davies, Staff Sgt. Michael Stearns, Staff Sgt. Diego Solano, Staff Sgt. Dedrick Baublitz and Staff Sgt. Francis Gelada. They took 10th place overall besting 21 other teams.

Each year, most of the members are veterans to the team, but this year was Solano's first time competing or even at-tending. He is new to SFS as of December last year. He was active-duty Navy for eight years and left as a Petty Officer Second Class, Master of Arms. He opted to try this because it was his first opportunity to participate in an off-duty event. He knew it would give him valuable experience and allow him to "shoot off a lot of rounds." He especially loved the training leading up to the challenge. It gave Solano a lot of trigger time and practice firing in uncomfortable and stressful situations. The hardest part for him was that he did "not know what to expect for the PT portion." Solano said he will definitely compete again.

Changes were expected as a different police department took reins of hosting the SWAT Challenge. Tech. Sgt. Aaron Jerolmon noted that this year's 6-mile PT challenge had a lot more obstacles than in previous courses. He thought the six sections that required all members to wear the gas mask were the hardest part. The team also had to carry a 50lb sand-bag the entire time which could never touch the ground. Jerolmon missed the helicopter that was featured last year.

Staff Sgt. Dedrick Baublitz competed in the Top Cop Challenge for the first time. It was a rigorous physical test with various firing competitions. He placed 29th out of 44 competitors.

Senior Master Sgt. Reynolds and Master Sgt. Marks took on the leadership roles for the team this year. The training plan was a collective, team effort. Staff Sgt. Stearns stepped up to serve as team captain during the PT Course. This meant he could not actively participate in the obstacles but was present for the entire run. He was the singular point of contact for the team for each station's volunteer. He had to relay instructions and then carry all 11 gas masks for the last half of the challenge.

The Security Forces Squadron continues to perform well at this annual event, showing they can stand with the full-time recognized SWAT teams. As always, additional information can be found at www.ctswatchallenge.com. They can also be found on Face-book, Instagram and Twitter.