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
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