The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Posted on | April 19, 2021 | Comments Off on Not All Heroes Wear Capes

During the course of the Best Ranger competition at Fort Benning, the teams ran or marched 62 miles in less than 60 hours while completing a series of tasks — obstacle courses, weapons ranges, etc. That’s basically back-to-back marathons, with a couple of 10Ks added on.

The brigade commander called it “the Super Bowl of the Army.”

Team 41 did not win the competition, but they went the distance.

Fifty-one teams began the competition with a nine-mile run at dawn Friday, and by the time they had finished the first obstacle course and the Victory Pond water event at 10 a.m., Team 34 — 1st Lt. Vince Paikowski and 1st Lt. Alastair Keys, from the 75th Ranger Battalion — had ensconced themselves in first place, with a lead they never relinquished. Meanwhile, our family was watching Team 41 — Sgt. Maj. Andrea Copes and Staff Sgt. Robert McCain Jr. — and worried about their place at 30th in the standings. We knew that the first day’s cut was at 28. Before the competition began, Bob had told his mother not to worry about their standings: They had a strategy, not to exhaust themselves on the first run, and rely on their superior marksmanship skills to carry them through.

Sure enough, after the completion of the Urban Assault Course at 11 a.m., Team 41 had moved up to 26th place, and after the Wagner Sniper Range event, they were 22nd. Next came the Three-Gun Event and M4 Qualification Event, after which Team 41 was in 13th place.

Having advanced 17 places since the morning run, we had hopes that Team 41 would keep moving up, but certainly we had good reason to be confident that they would make the first cut, when the field of competitors was reduced to 28 teams. What we didn’t know — the teams being incommunicado for the duration — was that Bob had injured his knee during the first morning’s obstacle course event, and was now limping in agony. Next event? Army Combat Fitness Test, followed by yet another obstacle course, and then a 19-mile night march.

Nineteen miles on a bad knee? No pain, no gain.

Team 41 made the cut. What followed the 19-mile march was a series of exercises called “Night Stakes,” that went until dawn. The scores for the remaining 28 teams were posted, and we learned that Team 41 had dropped to 19th place. Oh, boy — more angst.

You see, the next cut is to 16 teams, and so our guys started Saturday three places below where they needed to be to make it to Day Three. What followed was a day of “Day Stakes” exercises, shooting and more running and, by the time that was all done, Team 41 was in 17th place. The final exercise before the next cut was Night Orienteering (land navigation) and our guys killed it, with the second-highest score. So we found out Sunday morning they had made the cut and were in 14th place. We had hopes that they might make it to a Top 10 finish, but fatigue and injuries took their toll, and they finished 16th. Here is video of Team 41 in the Combat Water Survival Assessment:


You’ll hear the commentator (the coach of Team 49) explain that Bob’s partner is a sergeant major in Italian Special Forces, serving as a trainer for U.S. Rangers. A few photos of Bob in that event:

So . . . what did your kids do this weekend?



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