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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Recon Marines test their abilities during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge

By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | September 19, 2012

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Master Sgt. Christopher May and Sgt. Mark Rawson use the last of their energy reserves to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. The 14 two-man teams traveled 29.4 miles and completed six tasks, putting their endurance, communication skills and commitment to mission accomplishment to the test.

Master Sgt. Christopher May and Sgt. Mark Rawson use the last of their energy reserves to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. The 14 two-man teams traveled 29.4 miles and completed six tasks, putting their endurance, communication skills and commitment to mission accomplishment to the test. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Capt. William Burns and Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis are the first team to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. The teams finishing score was decreased or increased depending on how well they performed each of the tasks set up along the 29.4 mile course.

Capt. William Burns and Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis are the first team to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. The teams finishing score was decreased or increased depending on how well they performed each of the tasks set up along the 29.4 mile course. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Volunteers mark targets and record how well the two-man teams shot on the pistol range portion of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the teams’ over all times depending on how accurate they shot during both the pistol range and the rifle range.

Volunteers mark targets and record how well the two-man teams shot on the pistol range portion of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the teams’ over all times depending on how accurate they shot during both the pistol range and the rifle range. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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A competitor fires a .9 mm pistol during the range portion of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the teams’ end finish times depending on how accurate the shot during both the pistol range and the rifle range.

A competitor fires a .9 mm pistol during the range portion of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the teams’ end finish times depending on how accurate the shot during both the pistol range and the rifle range. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Capt. William Burns places two sandbags onto a pallet during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time would be added to his teams finish time if any of the 50 sandbags were to break while he and his partner, Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis, transferred them 50 meters from pallet to another.

Capt. William Burns places two sandbags onto a pallet during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time would be added to his teams finish time if any of the 50 sandbags were to break while he and his partner, Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis, transferred them 50 meters from pallet to another. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis transfers two sand bags 50 meters from one pallet to another with his partner, Capt. William Burns, during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. “When you’re working in pairs you have to understand limits, you’re constantly talking,” Jarvis said. “It’s a thinking man’s game.”

Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis transfers two sand bags 50 meters from one pallet to another with his partner, Capt. William Burns, during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. “When you’re working in pairs you have to understand limits, you’re constantly talking,” Jarvis said. “It’s a thinking man’s game.” (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Petty Officer 3rd Class Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the team’s finish time depending on whether or not the weapon was assembled correctly.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Petty Officer 3rd Class Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the team’s finish time depending on whether or not the weapon was assembled correctly. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Master Sgt. Christopher May and Sgt. Mark Rawson carry an American flag in remembrance of the Recon Marines that were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom on their way to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Each competitor carried the name of a fallen Recon Marine on his back and the dog tags close to their heart to remember the sacrifices those Marines made.

Master Sgt. Christopher May and Sgt. Mark Rawson carry an American flag in remembrance of the Recon Marines that were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom on their way to drag a 250 pound Zodiac raft across the finish line of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Each competitor carried the name of a fallen Recon Marine on his back and the dog tags close to their heart to remember the sacrifices those Marines made. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- On a lightless beach, 28 Marines emerged from the Pacific, ready to embark on a 29.4 mile trek through hills and sweltering heat to complete several missions that will test their endurance, communication skills and commitment to mission accomplishment.

This was the start of the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 15.

The competitors, officials and volunteers gathered, in the dark, on the San Onofre Beach. The race began with the Marines sprinting into the ocean, carrying ruck sacks weighing 60 to 70 pounds. They swam 1,000 meters out into the open-water, rounded a buoy and swam back to shore.

This year’s competitors carried the names of the Recon Marines killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom on their backs and the dog tags of the fallen close to their hearts, said Master Sgt. Mariota Pa’u Jr., the operations chief for Reconnaissance Training Company, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Each two-man team surfaced from the water, jogged back to the starting point, where they changed into dry gear and retrieved their rifles before hiking to the next challenge.

From the San Onofre Beach, the Marines hiked 12.5 miles which separated them from their next designated obstacle.

“Communication is huge,” said Gunnery Sgt. Collin Barry, a chief instructor for the Reconnaissance Training Company. “We have many check points along the route, and a lot of safety stations. We’ve gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of these marines participating today.”

Cresting a hill, the competitors were faced with their first two tasks.

Several teams rushed to a pallet stacked with 50 sandbags waiting to be transferred to another pallet 50 meters away. While others immediately stripped down to “boots and utes,” (camouflaged utilities) and jumped into the pool to assemble an M240G machine gun under 15 feet of water.

After transferring sandbags and assembling the weapon and performing a function check, the teams made their way to the pistol and rifle ranges, where they were briefed as they approached the firing line to help prevent delays in their finishing times.

After emptying each magazine, the pairs set out to hike the second half of the competition.

“Hiking along the 101 was a long stretch and the hard ball was so hot,” said Master Sgt. Dave Jarvis, a training chief for Force Recon Company. “I didn’t have sunglasses so that was my internal breaking point. Everything was blinding, hot and burning.”

After overcoming the heat and scorching sun on the concrete straight-away, the Marines rounded the last bend with the finish line in view.

Marine Corps Community Services’ banners and tents lined the last 50 meter stretch of the race.

“You’ve got to save energy, because the hardest part is the last two miles,” explained Jarvis.

As the teams approached the home stretch, the spectators cheered and clapped as the competitors prepared to complete the last task of dragging a 250 pound Zodiac raft 50 meters to the finish line.

With a time of 9 hours, 28 minutes, 16 seconds, Jarvis and his partner Capt. William Burns, the operations officer for Force Recon Company, were awarded first place, beating the second place team by six minutes.

Jarvis and Burns received M4 Carbine rifles and decorated oars stating their victory. The second and third place teams received oars as well.

After a grueling 14 hour trial, the competitors gathered to celebrate the winners and to commemorate the sacrifices of their fellow Recon Marines.


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