Best Ranger

First Lt. Steven Hail and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Lemma, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, cross the finish line around 3 p.m. April 14 to finish 14th place in the Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.

Courtesy photo

The events of the three-day Best Ranger Competition sound miserable, even for the fittest of soldiers.

Competitors got about three hours of sleep, spent the first day on their feet for about 38 miles, climbed and rappeled a 65-foot wall, among many other events, and the only food provided was seven MREs.

“While we were in it, we said we’d never do it again,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Lemma, who represented Fort Hood’s 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade at this year’s competition alongside 1st Lt. Steven Hail. “Immediately afterward, we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it again.’”

“The glory of winning the Best Ranger Competition is worth it,” Hail said.

The “Phantom Recon” team was the first from a battlefield surveillance brigade to ever compete at the Ranger competition, held April 12-14 at Fort Benning, Ga., and the two-man team placed 14th out of 50 teams selected from across the Army.

It was both soldiers’ first time taking part in the competition, and their team was one of four in the top 15 not affiliated with special operations or a Ranger unit. The winning team came from the Ranger Training Brigade. Only 24 teams finished all three days of competition.

“Simply an amazing performance by these two men,” said Lt. Col. John Cogbill, squadron commander.

“We could not be prouder of our Best Ranger team.”

Now that the guys have been through the competition, they said they felt like they were physically and mentally prepared going into the competition. Where they would change things, would be in the transitions.

“I was disappointed we couldn’t take first for (long- range reconnaissance) and III Corps in general,” Lemma said. “I’m glad we finished and people can see 504th has quality soldiers that go above and beyond. I want to do it again and I want to win for sure.”

For more on Phantom Recon’s experience at the Best Ranger Competition, read Wednesday’s Fort Hood Herald.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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