First ever Ground Team Competition held
By Major Todd Mandel
Recently, more than 100 members of Wisconsin Wing descended on the Volk Field Air National Guard Base to learn ground search and rescue skills and to compete in the first ever Wisconsin Wing Ground Team Competition. The Ground Team Academy and Competition, which had attendees from three wings, featured three different educational tracks including basic ground search, advanced ground search, and urban direction finding.
The competition portion marked the first time Wisconsin Wing has held a competitive event among ground teams. Teams were required to have at least one cadet member and a minimum of four members altogether. Those units participating were Southeast Group, Walco Composite Squadron, La Crosse Composite Squadron, West Bend Composite Squadron, and 153rd Composite Squadron (Madison).
During the two-day event teams competed in locating emergency locator transmitters, night time land navigation, a map test, gear inspection, and a quiz bowl. Adverse weather challenged the teams as the high temperatures only reached 15 degrees during the day and wind chills approached 20 below zero during night operations. The competition demanded a high level of execution and safety from the experienced teams. The event concluded with no mishaps or accidents.
Once all the points were tallied the champion ground team came from the La Crosse Composite Squadron with Southeast Group taking second and the Walco team taking third. Teams were competitive, with only four points separating second and fourth place. Lt Col Denese Hegeland oversaw the competition with the assistance of Lt Col Tim Slater and Major David Veriezen.
While the competition teams battled for bragging rights, the Ground Team Academy students honed their skills. Basic Academy students learned about shelter building, navigating with a compass, direction finding, survival information, and more. Most students completed the majority of tasks required for Ground Team Member 3 qualification.
Advanced Academy students focused on the tasks and knowledge required to be a Ground Team Leader. Students worked on advanced land navigation, team safety, proper documentation, and much more. Students completed the majority of tasks required for Ground Team 1 and Ground Team Leader.
Students from both schools operated in the cold and snow as part of the training. Volk Field ANGB served as an ideal training location due to the quality facilities, central location, and varied training venues available on base.