Dimond HS JROTC Attends 74th D-Day Anniversary
Story by: LTC (R) Matthew C. Payne, SAI, 1SG (R) Lennie M. Hutton, AI
February 24th, 2018 | BEDFORD, VA – Bedford Science and Technology Center (BSTC) Junior ROTC program (Wolfpack) hosted the Inaugural D-Day Memorial Raider Challenge Meet on the grounds of the National D-Day Memorial. Dedicated on June 6th, 2001 by President George W. Bush, the National D-Day Memorial was constructed in honor of those who died that day, fighting in one of the most significant battles in our nation’s history. The monument receives an average of 60,000 visitors a year and is a profound addition to America’s War Memorials. The structure encompasses 55 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Bedford, Virginia, like eleven other Virginia communities, provided a company of Soldiers (Company A) to the 29th Infantry Division when the National Guard’s 116th Infantry Regiment was activated on 3 February 1941. Some thirty Bedford Soldiers were still in that company on D-Day; several more from Bedford were in other D-Day companies. Company A of the 116th Infantry, assaulted Omaha Beach as part of the First Division’s Task Force. By day’s end, nineteen of the company’s Bedford Soldiers were dead. Two more Bedford Soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 116th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses. Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose Citizen-Soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial here.
Ten Virginia teams (about 100 Cadets) from five schools turned out to compete, Buckingham, Carrol, Manchester, Orange, and Spotsylvania. Our competition began at 8:00 am with a team five kilometer run. The next event was a modified Army Physical Fitness Test consisting of one minute of push-ups, one minute of sit ups, and a timed one mile run. Big thanks to the NCOs of the 104th Training Division, Senior Drill Sergeant (SFC) Spencer and SGT Alberts who oversaw the administration of both of these events. Following the 5k and the modified Army Physical Fitness Test teams were released to rotate through four other events. There was a litter carry event where teams moved a simulated casualty through the woods on a stretcher.
Along the way they negotiated two wall type obstacles built by the Bedford Science and Technology Center’s Construction Class under supervision of Mr. Sam Morgan. There was a tire flip event around a triangular course on a hillside which really tested the ability of Cadets to control the weight. The Point du Hoc Challenge was our logistics relay event named for key terrain on the beaches at Normandy France seized by the Ranger Battalion on D-Day. It required teams to move equipment up a steep hill on a prescribed route prepared by Mr. Carson and Mr. Almond of the BSTC Custodial Staff. Teams were presented with various items and eight empty ruck sacks. It was up to the team to distribute and configure the loads of the individuals and negotiate the hill. There was also the one rope bridge competition. Poles were placed by our BSTC Construction Class, Town of Bedford Electrical Department, and Bedford Ready Mix Concrete.
Graders for all events were from the Liberty University Army ROTC program. Twenty one Cadets under the supervision of SFC Hutzenbiler and Cadet Major Evans came down to give us a hand. Our medical coverage was provided by eight BSTC Emergency Medical Technician Students under supervision of Mrs. Jodi Shirey. Scoring was done by LTC (R) Becker our former SAI and SSG Winters of the Virginia National Guard. Refreshment sales and a host of other tasks were taken care of by family and friends of the Bedford Wolfpack.
An awards presentation was conducted around 3:00 pm. Awards were presented to top three teams in each event as well as top scores in the individual physical fitness test. Top team awards were presented by the members of the Bedford American Legion Post and top individual awards were presented by Colonel (Retired) John Miller the President of the Stonewall Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.
The team with the highest fitness test scores was Buckingham, the fastest 5k team was Carroll, the one rope bridge competition was won by Buckingham, the litter carry was also won by Buckingham as was the Point du Hoc challenge, Orange County won the tire flip and the overall winner of the inaugural D-Day Memorial Raider Challenge Meet was Buckingham, Carroll County was runner up, and Spotsylvania was third.
The Bedford Cadets did not compete in this event, they ensured that those who traveled here had a first rate experience. While they had a lot of help along the way from the many folks already mentioned, the Bedford JROTC Cadets did the bulk of the planning, preparing, and the execution of the event. The following Monday they took time in class to do some meaningful reflection on how the event could be even better next year.
This event would not have been possible without the generous support and contributions of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, The Bedford Science and Technology Center, The Bedford American Legion Post, The Association of the United States Army, The AMVETS (American Veterans), The Liberty University Army ROTC Department, and local Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers as well as Bedford Ready Mix and Bedford Electric Department who helped us set the poles for the rope bridge and Harley Davidson of Lynchburg that loaned us the trailer for refreshment sales and event scoring.