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Infantrymen put on their...WARFACE; 2/7 Marines vie for Super Squad


Story Identification Number: 200322519355
Story by Sgt. Daniel L. Patterson

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan(Feb. 16, 2003) -- It's a dark, cool night in the jungle. A squad of 15 Marines move stealthily through thick terrain over hills and streams. The brisk wind blowing swiftly across their faces makes it difficult to hear each other.

The dense jungle vegetation strangles out the moonlight as the warriors move silently through the thick blackness. They hone their skill of maneuvering through the jungle in the pitch-black darkness by using their compass and land navigation skills. The Marines are fatigued.

Four hours of lugging packs and weapons through the dense foliage is taking its toll on them; however, they still have to accomplish the mission at hand.

Thoughts of being at home are running through their heads. A song repeatedly runs through one Marine's mind, reminding him of his family. Conversation is sporadic at best as they trudge on. All they can do is try to keep busy and stay focused.

Determined not to fail, they know only one squad will claim the title "Super Squad."

The Marines of E, F and G Companies, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, recently held a battalion-level Super Squad competition at Camp Schwab and the Central Training Area on Okinawa to decide who is the best infantry squad.

The competition is an annual event that takes place throughout the Marine Corps. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Divisions send their best squads to compete, but first, the regiment has to select its best candidate to compete for the Super Squad title.

Super Squad is based on the skills of the squad's performance as a team and its ability to attain mission accomplishment. The guidelines for the annual rifle squad competition were in accordance with Marine Corps Order 3590.14F.

The squads are judged as a team, but the squad leader is also judged individually on issuing orders and leadership skills. The squad leader is given numerous tasks, which requires him to delegate responsibilities to his team leaders.

"We expect a lot from the squad leader, he must have good initiative to finish the job," said 1st Lt. Phil H. Steuber, executive officer, E Company, and officer in charge for the battalion Super Squad competition.

Super Squad's history spans more than 20 years. Past and present Marines have endured pain and sweat throughout the competition to claim the prestigious title of being the Corps' best infantry squad.

"This is high quality training because it tests the Marines physically, mentally and especially emotionally since we aren't getting to return home yet," Steuber said.

The battalion was scheduled to leave Okinawa earlier this month but did not because of the current stop move policy.

"Although the Marines were looking forward to going home, they have responded with nothing but professionalism," Steuber explained.

The Marines were ready to go but since they will not return to Twentynine Palms as scheduled, they will compete against 3rd Marine Division in the competition.

"Being in the jungles of Okinawa is a whole new challenge for us. We are used to the desert, and it is good for us to train in this terrain," Steuber said.

The squads prepared for approximately one month for the competition. During that time, the squads held various inspections and honed their infantry skills with tests and training.

The first two days of the competition began with a test on Camp Schwab. The Marines were tested on infantry skills, first-aid skills and weapons.

The Marines were in the field training at Landing Zone Condor and in areas surrounding the Central Training Area. Site preparation, ambush patrols, night security attacks and maintaining a defense against possible attacks were all parts of the field training.

Unlike in garrison, hot meals are not available to the Marines. The Marines were issued Meals Ready to Eat before going out. They decide individually when and how much food to consume. Sleep is hard to come by, too.

"Marines get approximately three to four hours of sleep each night," Steuber explained. "Even though they don't get much sleep, they are driven and focused to get the job done. It gets harder and harder with each passing day."

Even though the training may be vigorous and seem like it will never end, it will pay off in the end, Steuber added.

The winner of the battalion competition moves on to the regimental competition. The winner will then move on to the division competition in Hawaii.

The squad that wins division will go to Washington D.C. for a formal parade, and the winners will receive the Marine Corps Super Squad Medal.

After the competition ended Saturday, the squads competing received a well-deserved day of liberty for performing well in the field, according to Steuber.

Steuber said selecting a winner was a tough decision to make. According to him, F Company won because of its great attention to detail in every aspect of the competition.

Despite the fatigue and homesickness, the Marines were committed to carrying out their mission. Finishing their movement for the night, the Marines moved through the darkness of the jungle and climbed into their fighting holes to get a few hours of sleep, to prepare for another day of competition.

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