The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

May 23, 2014

Danville National Guard tank squad finishes 4th

MAUSDALE — A tank team, with headquarters near Danville, was the only National Guard team to make it to the top 4 in competition among 17 teams from the U.S. and Canada.

The team, selected to represent the Pennsylvania National Guard, won fourth place in the competition involving crews from the Canadian military, the Marine Corps, other active duty military units and other National Guard teams.

The Sullivan Cup: Best Tank Crew Competition is held every two years and hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Armor School and 194th Armored Brigade. It is named for retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan — 32nd Army chief of staff.

This was the first time the Danville-based team competed in the event, according to Sgt. First Class Bryan Bailey, 30, tank commander from Danville.

His teammates were Spec. Zachary Zondory, 21, of Williamsport; Spec. Timothy Humpal, 21, of Wellsboro; and Sgt. Michael Shultz, 33, of Canton.

Bailey is a member of C Company of the 3rd Battalion 103rd Armor along with Humpal and Shultz. Zondory is a member of D Co. of the battalion. Both companies are based in Williamsport and in Wellsboro.

They were among three National Guard teams in the cup race with the other teams from North Carolina and Washington.

After being chosen for the competition by C Co. Commander Aaron Ohnmeiss and C Co. First Sgt. Russell Wood, the team trained daily for nearly seven months for the competition held May 11-15 in Ft. Benning, Ga. They usually train once a month.

They found the most grueling of the events to involve physical fitness the first day, according to Bailey.

They started competing at 2:30 p.m. in “95 degrees and 100 percent humidity,” said Bailey, a National Guard member for 13 years.

They had to run to stations covering a six-mile course while carrying a weapon and a pack weighing about 16 pounds.

They had to lift tank ammunition, from 48 to 56 pounds, and run with it.

They were familiar with the tank used in the competition because it’s the type they train with — an M1A1 Abrams, weighing 67 tons and 32.3 feet long.

Active duty military personnel were using a newer tank version in the competition. Those tanks contain a system enhancement package which includes a commander’s independent thermal viewer, an improved fire-control system and other improvements.

Pennsylvania Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig commended the Pennsylvania team. “Facing mostly active duty tank crews using M1A1s versus their M1A2 SEPs, our team demonstrated the superior capabilities of the National Guard. They were driving an Impala against Corvettes and they led the race through raw skill and tenacity. I could not be prouder of these tankers,” he said.

The team from Pennsylvania was the only National Guard entry to advance after placing second in its group.

Another station they competed in involved a simulated destroyed tank where they removed sensitive materials and a casualty and dragged him and the equipment through a mine field while being shot at with blanks.

They also ran to a building where they had to identify tanks from among 44 possibilities. “We had to say what they are and where they are from,” Bailey said.

The team also disassembled and assembled an M240 machine gun.

They separated a tank track, ran 100 meters to pick up another track section, ran back and attached the pieces together.

The team also shot rifles and pistols and shot at tank targets ranging from 800 meters to 2,100 meters.

“After all that, we had to run back where we began,” Bailey said of their timed finish.

Shultz has been in the National Guard for 15-and-a-half years. Humpal and Zondory are three-year members.

With them was a support team of Staff Sgt. Shane Graves, of Ulysses; Sgt. William Phillips, of Williamsport; and Private First Class Garrett Cleveland, of Knoxville, Pa.

For placing fourth, each team member received a plaque on an end piece of a tank round.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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