Dozens of soldiers hit the ground running before the sunrise Friday morning as they compete for the title of “Best Ranger”. The 35th annual Best Ranger Competition on Fort Benning gathers the best and brightest men and women in arms.
Families turned out to support their loved ones as they ran, swam, and shot their way through Friday’s events.
“It amazes me how our military is so well-trained. I don’t think most of us as Americans have any clue what these guys are capable of. It’s really impressive and it makes us so proud of our nephew,” says Barb McKinney while standing next to her husband Russ. Both traveled from Florida to support their nephew in the competition.
“He’s been in it four years now,” Russ explains. “His second year he and his partner came in eighth and last year they were in tenth. Honestly, finishing this thing is already so impressive.”
The Best Ranger opening ceremonies started at 5:45 a.m. followed by a mass run between all 50 of the two-man teams. They then had to prove their mettle through an obstacle course, weighted carry and pond swim. Competitors had barely enough time to dry off before launching into a body armor run, then urban and air assault courses.
News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton met with the cheering crowds who watched as rangers made it to the halfway point for the day — multiple shooting ranges that tested competitors aptitudes firing everything from M9s to grenade launchers.
“I love coming to this, it kinda boosts morale amongst everyone and to get them excited and for people who might not know much about the military to see what they do overseas here in a competitive setting,” says Karlie Slocum of New York as her husband passes by on the way to his next course.
The rangers will have to rally themselves for the rest of the weekend as their grueling tests and trials continue until Sunday afternoon. The results will be one team’s victory walking away with a “Best Ranger” title well earned.
Click here for a full schedule of Best Ranger Competition events. If you would like to attend the competition as a spectator, visit the Fort Benning I-185 post entrance with a photo ID.