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Combat engineers compete for 'Iron Sapper' title

Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 10:33am

Combat engineers at Fort Bliss tested their mettle this week in the 1st Armored Division's "Iron Sapper" competition.   

The highly skilled combat engineers, known as Sappers, have many duties.  But the most common one, especially since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Aghanistan, is the dangerous task of finding and often dismantling improvised explosive devices (IEDs). 

Iron Sapper winner, 1st Lt. Matthew Floyd said, "Our primary job right now is to find IEDs, so we go out and do route clearance where we look for roadside bombs and either eliminate them ourselves or have EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] elimate them."

Floys and his team won the Iron Sapper competition after completing a grueling course in the best time. After marching more than 20 miles with rucksacks on their backs, swimming 1,000 meters with heavy packs, completing land navigation tests and several other tests, the sleep-deprived Soldiers faced the most intense part of the competition - Sapper Stakes.  

"It's a multi-event - eight sub events within the Sapper Stakes.  The crews are required to do demolition calculations, set up obstacles, breach obstacles, and basically test every bit of knowledge they have on Sapper tasks," said Maj. James Startzell, the 1st Armored Division's Assistant Engineer.

The team will now continue to train and prepare to compete in the Army's "Best Sapper" competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri next year.

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