Above: Sgt. 1st Class Cody St. Germain and 1st Lt. Charlotte Kuhn, Soldiers from the 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), rig explosives to clear an area of trip wires and land mines at a station April 22 on Day 1 of the 2023 Best Sapper Competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Right: First Lt. John Darden and Staff Sgt. Jacob Stein, Soldiers from the 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), complete the “X Mile” run event April 24 to finish out the competition. During the “X Mile” run event, Soldiers complete an unknown number of miles as well as stations with exercises and obstacles. (U.S. Army photos by Pfc. Mason Nichols)
10th Mountain Division combat engineers complete annual Best Sapper Competition
Pfc. Mason Nichols
27th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 25, 2023) – Two teams of combat engineers assigned to the 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB) and the 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI), tested their skills and endurance at the 16th Annual Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition, held April 21-24 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
The 7th BEB team, Team 27, consisting of Sgt. 1st Class Cody St. Germain and 1st Lt. Charlotte Kuhn, placed 25th overall out of the final 29 teams that completed the Best Sapper Competition. The 41st BEB team, Team 31, consisting of Staff Sgt. Jacob Stein and 1st Lt. John Darden, placed 20th overall.
Team 27 and Team 31 competed against 50 other teams throughout the four-day challenge, in which Sappers traveled 50 miles of rugged and rolling Missouri terrain. The event took place over 67 hours, encompassing multiple mental and physical challenges with almost no sleep.
Command Sgt. Maj. DeMarius Lyles, from the 7th BEB, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, sends a team every year because of how important the competition is to his Soldiers.
“Number one, it tests the skills of our engineer Soldiers and keeps us tied in with the rest of the engineer regiment,” Lyles said.
The event demonstrates excellence within the Army engineer regiment and allows competitors to prove their skills and perfect their craft.
Kuhn described the feeling of completion as “unbelievable.”
St. Germain, who also participated in last year’s competition, agreed.
The competition consisted of a non-standard physical fitness test, an overnight ruck, an elimination event, Sapper stakes, a final run, and many other challenges. These trials tested their physical endurance, mental resilience, and overall engineer prowess to challenge for the top spot at the Best Sapper Competition.
The team credited their platoon’s support and their training regimen, which included working with the previous competitors from their unit, in helping them complete the event.
Lyles explained why the challenge is important to Kuhn and St. Germain.
“It changes the culture inside of the organization. They are a platoon leader and platoon sergeant, and their entire platoon wants to become Sappers,” Lyles said. “They are the ones changing the culture, and having a female competitor shows other female Soldiers what’s possible.”
The challengers agreed the competition was tough both mentally and physically. The experience teaches participants how to operate under unsympathetic conditions with very little sleep or food and still complete the mission at hand.
The 317th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Fort Polk, Louisiana, sent two Soldiers as well. First Lt. Eric Kinderman and 1st Lt. Jesus Cortez placed 31st overall in the competition.
The teams look forward to future challenges, including passing their experience onto their Soldiers and competing in next year’s Best Sapper Competition.