National Guard celebrates 377 years of service

U.S. service members perform tire flips during the U.S. National Guard 5k race and Minuteman Challenge on Bagram Air Field, Dec. 14, 2013. The race and challenge concluded a three-day National Guard 377th birthday celebration hosted by the Ohio National Guard 437th Military Police Battalion and National Guard Affairs -Afghanistan.

Sgt. Quentin Johnson | U.S. Army

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — National Guardsmen came together with teamwork and esprit de corps during the U.S. National Guard 5-kilometer race and Minuteman Challenge at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Saturday.

It concluded the Guard’s three-day, 377th birthday celebration, which consisted of a leadership dinner, a breakfast with soldiers and airmen, a cake cutting, a reenlistment ceremony, a race and the Minuteman Challenge, said Maj. Eric Luca, an information officer for the 437th Military Police Battalion, Ohio Army National Guard. The U.S. National Guard Affairs-Afghanistan hosted the event and the battalion sponsored it.

The five-man team challenge was open to all U.S. service members and civilians at Bagram, said Guardsman Master Sgt. Edward LeDoux, senior career counselor/enlisted advisor for National Guard Affairs-Afghanistan. It consisted of six team events including a 5k race, situps, pullups, ammo can squats, tires flips and burpees.

Twenty teams competed, scoring points for final placing in the race and complete team repetitions at each of the five other events, Luca said.

“It was more than celebrating the Guard’s birthday, but a chance to give back to the (Bagram) community,” Luca said.

LeDoux said the Guard opened the challenge to everyone.

“We are one team with one fight,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to bring together service members who are spread across the U.S. to celebrate with healthy competition, building esprit de corps and teamwork while having fun.”

For the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, it did just that, as three teams from the brigade were represented at the challenge, said Lt. Col. Mark Huhtanen, Black Jack deputy commander. “It was fun and challenging, with the different events playing to different peoples strengths.”

Huhtanen remarked on what he felt was the most important part of the challenge — remembering military heritage.

“It was great to celebrate the National Guard’s birthday, after all Guard is an important part of our heritage,” Huhtanen said. “The challenge brought service members together, which brought out the Warrior Ethos and Army Values.”

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